Welcome to Project CultCrit, a poetry critiquing community that seeks to emphasize the most important facets of writing: research and revision. There are tons of critiquing communities on LJ, of varying calibres, but I've yet to see one that focuses on the importance of literary exposure, whereas this community is based on the principle that it is important to read as much or more than you're writing. This goes for poetry and prose, though the rule will be used here only as it pertains to poetry. Posting your poems here means opening yourself to the constructive criticism of fellow poets and poetic enthusiasts, and also to their recommendations for inspirational material they feel could best help you improve both your poems and your writing style.
To become, and stay, a member, here's what you have to do (A.K.A. The RULES):
1) First, click on the little "Join Community" button at the top of the Community Info page. Easy enough, right? Everyone's allowed to take part at the start, and so long as you follow the rules, you won't be hassled by modly types. Promise!
2) Then go back to the Community Info page and scroll down to the header: "FIRST POSTS". This section will include a list of first posts made by the members here.
3) Pick THREE of them, click on the links, and read the poetry. Don't see three posts? Well, that means you're among the first three members of the community to post. And we're glad to have you! So just click on what links there are, then.
4) After reading each poem, reply. Your reply doesn't necessarily have to include a constructive critique of the poem (including comments on what works and what doesn't, and so forth), but it's strongly encouraged. This is a critiquing community, after all.
What you must include, however, is at least ONE RECOMMENDATION FOR FURTHER RESEARCH. What does this mean, exactly? Well, it can really be almost anything, so long as you justify why you feel the reference would be of use to the poet. If you felt someone's poetry reminded you of Anne Sexton, suggest they read Anne Sexton's poetry to reinforce their style. Or, if you suspect they may already have read her work, offer another, perhaps lesser known poet. You could even recommend a single poem, if you feel that best relates to the work you've just read. Or, if the poem's about, say, anatomy, but you feel the poem was written in terms too vague for the subject matter, refer the poet to an online source material that details further information on anatomy. Hell, refer the poet to a songwriter, if you feel there are similarities, or to a work of fiction you recently read that you think has the same sort of tone. Recommend any work you feel would reinforce what the poet is aiming for in their style or their subject matter, and justify your choice.
Really, that's all there is to it. Oh, but, a warning: if you think the poem could really benefit from a stronger sense of diction, you can refer the person to a thesaurus, but PLAY NICE, guys. There's a friendly way of referring someone to the thesaurus, and there are numerous not so friendly ways of suggesting it. Pick the former.
ALSO, if someone else has already, say, recommended Anne Sexton when you wanted to, you CANNOT simply repeat the recommendation. You can, of course, say that you totally agree with the recommendation, but your reply MUST include at least one new reference that was not already mentioned. Not too hard, right? We're trying to share a broad variety of interests here.
5) Now to the fun bit! Once you have posted your replies for three poems (or as many poems as are on the list), you're free to post your own! Remember: if you intend on getting the poem published at some point, FRIENDSLOCK THE POST. Also, keep in mind that THE SUBJECT LINE FOR YOUR FIRST POEM MUST CONTAIN THE WORDS: "FIRST POST", and must ONLY CONTAIN ONE POEM. This is so I can easily skim through the community page, find all the first posts, and add them to the Community Info page. From this point on, you're IN!
6) BUT it's not over yet. You've earned the right to post that first poem, and from that point on you'll start getting recommendations and constructive criticism of your own, so you'll be an active member of the community. And congrats for that! To stay a member in good standing, though, you cannot make more posts (responses are fine) until you've commented - again, with REFERENCES - to at least three of the posts that followed your last post.
Don't see this as a burden, though! See this as an opportunity not only to offer constructive criticism of other poetry, but also to share with the community your individual exposure to a whole range of media - poets, poems, writers, books, movies, music, and articles alike. The options are really quite far-reaching. This is your chance to show who YOU are through what has affected you, and to offer those experiences to others you feel could benefit from them. Think of this community as one big media meme, and get those references flowing!
A Few More Rules:
A. Blatantly mean and hurtful comments (and by this I don't mean the ones both parties know were made in jest) will be deleted, and the culprit will receive an automatic suspension for the first offense, with the suspension lasting a week. After that week, the ban will be lifted, and the culprit will be permitted to post again. Apologies are nice, but not enforced. Hopefully we can all be grown up about this. If the culprit pulls a similar stunt again, he or she will be banned permanently.
A few quick reminders to help us all differentiate between light-hearted snark (which is allowed), and unnecessary viciousness:
A poem may be considered dull, useless, uninspired, weak, etc. A person may NOT.
Got that? Good.
And, yes, it will be up to my discretion to decide what counts as unnecessary meanness/harassment/insults, but keep this in mind if you're worried about me blowing the whistle at the slightest bit of snark: I'm a member (on hiatus) of a hard-core poetry critiquing community with a well-earned reputation for not always being nice (but more often than not being right!) for eight months. I like to think I'm well versed by now in shades of grey when it comes to the differences between snark and slander. But if you do have issue with the choices I make, hey, feel free to write me and tell me how much both I and my family and my pet cat and the boy I married in kindergarden suck. Extra points for putting said critique of my self-worth in poetic form! Ten points for iambic pentameter! Fifty for sestinas!
B. Also, if it does not seem like you're at all justified in the references you give - like reccing The Beginner's Guide to Sex for a poem about nuns - I'm going to interpret that as trolling or spamming. And as I have no tolerance for either, unless it's CLEARLY EVIDENT that the posted recommendation was made in good fun - and accepted by both parties as such - the poster will receive an automatic one-week suspension.
C. When not posting your own poetry, you are MORE THAN WELCOME to post discussions ABOUT poetry, poets, poetry events, and poetry book reviews (or reviews on books about writing in general). It is also permissable to post a list of recs for other writing communities/websites that you've taken part in or visited, so long as there's a bit of an explanation for why you thought to post the link (in this case I'm viewing alternate communities as a means of exposure in and of itself, and since the point of this community is exposure in general, I've no qualms!). Any other subject, however, is not okay, and will be considered Off Topic. Off Topic posts will be deleted, no questions asked.
D. If you have not kept up with your commentary/recs for other posts, and you post a poem of your own, I will post a reminder in the reply to your post. You will then have two days to rectify the matter. I will never delete the posting of any poem on the community page, so long as it's not an obvious troll 'poem', but if you have not caught up on your responses after the two days' grace period, or haven't given me a good reason why I should extend the deadline, I will suspend your posting access for one week. Tough love, I know, but good communities need clear rules and expectations. And, again, posting references shouldn't be a chore!
E. If you have any questions or complaints, email me at email@example.com before you go wreaking havoc on the community page. I don't bite, honest, and I will get back to you as soon as I can!
Also, as an aside, all members are very much encouraged to add choriamb, the poetry news journal, to their friends lists, so as to keep updated and exposed to the world of contemporary poetry. Happy reading!