Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: critique

  1. #1



    In this delusive world
    I viewed the moon
    Two years too long.


    Japanese Death Poems/ Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death
    Ihara Saikaku, a 17th century author of romantic novels and haiku in Japan was of the same generation as Basho. Basho, a well-known and beloved haiku poet, criticized Saikaku as writing in ‘an inferior style’. Didn’t seem to slow Saikaku down as he was known as the most rapid haiku poet. He is said to have written 23,500 haiku in a single day!


    It seems its human nature to be critical of really… everything. In the arts it comes in public format, private snickering, jealous raging or sincere suggestions and feedback meant to be helpful.

    Criticism is not always unwelcome. It depends on the intent of the critic and the openness of the artist. Criticism at its harshest can destroy the creative spirit. Loori (Zen and Creativity) states that while there is a place for criticism in art it should not be part of the feedback to the person just developing their creative voice. Meitou, in a recent post, shared the sad story of her early experiences of being crushed by harsh criticism in art school.

    The act of artmaking is a form of communication and creative feedback / criticism may be our only way to know if what we are painting, sculpting, composing, photographing, writing etc. is effective.

    I have a friend, an artist/writer, who longs for serious criticism of her work. She believes all criticism is positive. And when she’s asked her opinion about someone else’s work she’s blunt and expects the same from those reviewing her work. To her it’s the only way that we can grow and learn. But I believe she's unique in this. We belong to a small writers group and on one occasion she criticized the writing of one of our members and the woman was deeply hurt and offended. Although every suggestion she made was valid. My friend apologized and then dropped out of the group, not because she was asked to but didn’t want to be part of a group where she could not speak her truth.

    So, there are many ways to look at criticism.

    Loori thinks work should be analyzed by the ‘feeling’ it conveys to its audience.

    Criticism is important if the work is technically flawed. The aesthetics of the work is not under attack but the vehicle examined and critiqued.

    Anybody out there who has had personal experience with reviews of their work. Harsh or otherwise? Or belongs to a creative group that serves to offer up suggestions for modification, alterations, changes? Any suggestions on how to respond to creative work in an open and safe way for all involved? Or maybe you are like my friend and want to hear unedited responses to your work. How does 'right speech' work in giving feedback?

    It’s a rich subject. Any thoughts, experiences to relay?




  2. #2
    I think when something is in its nascent stages of creation critique should only be given if asked or if one already has a relationship of sharing feedback with someone. And even if one asks for critique I have found it important to weigh that feedback against one's own instincts. Just because someone gives a critique it doesn't mean it is necessarily 'correct'. Experience of, say, poetry is quite subjective and some people have certain rules they were taught that might not be helpful to a particular piece. I find it helpful to get a few people's opinions and feedback on one piece.

    I think most people are fairly sensitive when it comes to creativity and it is possible to crush someone's confidence, especially if they've just started out. It can be useful to sandwich critical suggestions between positive feedback and be gentle.

    That's just my experience as someone who started writing this year. I have found feedback absolutely invaluable and incredibly supportive and I'm so grateful I've had that. Done well it can give one great confidence to know that you can trust someone to be straight with you. Perhaps it's a delicate balance of honesty and gentle speech that has to be carefully judged depending on the person, the relationship, and the piece. I've had people I don't know well ask me for my opinion and then it's quite hard to gage how direct to be. I think staying very humble and making it clear that it's just your experience and thoughts can help.

    Oh, and I really like that book of Japanese Death Poems!


  3. #3
    Hi Anne!

    That is a very good question!

    I think, for me, the important thing is that the criticism is invited, either by submitting to a place that will involve outside scrutiny for publication or inclusion in an exhibition etc, or through personal request.

    My previous life was as an academic scientist and I have yet to receive criticism of my creative work that is anything like as brutal as that handed out by the editors of science journals. However, that is entirely reasonable, journal editors are not there to be encouraging but rather to make sure that the science they publish is correct and robust in its methods, analysis and conclusions. For a young scientist it is a wake up call that makes us quickly improve our writing!

    Improving our work is the positive side of criticism. However, it needs to be appropriate in the time, place and manner it is applied.

    In the haiku world, groups differ in their approach to offering criticism and that can cause problems. One Facebook group I know does not allow criticism but only likes. This works quite well as no one gets torn apart but instead learn what is considered good by number of likes (a measure which is not totally accurate but at least represents some degree of approval). Other groups can be much harsher and I have noticed I tend to react better to critique from those who write better than I do than those who have yet to become competent yet are happy to dole out advice for others. To offer advice, I think it is important to be at a stage where you are considered experienced enough to have a balanced opinion.

    In my own critique I try to be positive but if a friend really wants my advice, I am pretty blunt and tell them this up front. As with science journal editors, I see my task is to help the work be as good as it can rather than spare feelings (although I am not going to ever be horrible!).

    A flipside of criticism is personal confidence and self-reflection. Often I find that criticism I receive reflects concerns I have with my own work. Sometimes I find that criticism completely misses the mark and I ignore it. I may be wrong but in the end it is the artist's work and his/her mistakes to make. Just because someone gives us criticism does not mean we have to take it. We have our own artistic voice and while we may want input, we are responsible for applying it or not.

    Because of the important of confidence I think it is important to be gently encouraging to younger artists and those who are beginners whereas more established creative folk often know their own voice and like a stronger opinion. As you say, Meitou's experience at school can leave scars for life and I am sure many of us have heaerd stories from friends who stopped singing, drawing or playing an instrument etc because of early harshness from a parent or teacher. This is not something we want to happen. Suggestions for improvement can be done gently without pointing out flaws.

    Anyway, that is my two cents worth on this.

    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  4. #4
    I belong to a local writers group and we read our writing and comment on each other's writing. I find this to be extremely helpful, but we may have lost a member or two because of the criticism. Sometimes the comments can be incorporated and something better can arise, but sometimes the comments point to a deep flaw in the writing. I've let go of a project that wasn't going over well, but all writing and all comments help me along the learning curve. It's good to know what people want in the way of response.


  5. #5
    I think criticizing art can be very difficult if we as the viewers, readers, listeners, don't understand what the artist is trying to communicate via their artform. I think that if the criticism allows the artist to more effectively get their vision out then it is totally welcome. I think as artists we should be willing to open ourselves up to criticism because if we don't or we are afraid to, we may never put out that art. I do think that the criticism needs to be more than just, oh this is good, this is bad. I also feel that criticism is better served by someone that is aware of what the artist is trying to convey as I mentioned earlier. In short artists should not be scared of criticism and should take it with a grain of salt and get whatever use they can from it, and the critic should probably be more aware of the full context as to provide accurate feedback. Criticism on technique is valid almost always I think because it allows the artist to create more effectively, or at least that's what I feel.

    Sat today

  6. #6
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.

    Have you ever had children's medicine? If its an oral medication its usually very sweet. If its not sweet its very difficult to get them to take it even thought they need it! So it is with criticism if you want people to take it to heart it has to be delivered in an effective way. Another way to look it it would be de-weeding the lawn. I could probably stop dandelions from growing in my lawn or garden by supplying generous quantities of salt but it would also kill the grass. Which is preferable? Weeds or a barren field?

    I"m not sure how clear this is but if you have the chance to read Plato's Gorgias this is discussed.

    I've seen people deliver "tough" or unfiltered talk and then defend themselves as just being honest. Their criticism of others reveals their own weaknesses.

    Anywho, Just a thought.

    dotting the field
    a rabbit's feasts

    Last edited by Hoseki; 10-31-2018 at 05:33 PM. Reason: Added an extra letter

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts