In May, I participated in a poetry competition that is unique in that the work is evaluated anonymously by the other writers in the competition. At the conclusion of the contest, you can access your feedback and see the names of the other participants if they’ve chosen to reveal their identity.
I use this contest to expose my most experimental writing to the feedback of several potentially unbiased poets.
When I’m in the spirit to start revising the works, I pull out that feedback and glean what gold may be found therein.
In the past, I’ve been disappointed by weak feedback and in many cases no feedback (where you are assigned a ranking against five other competitors but no comments). In my value system, a low ranking with detailed commentary is invaluable. I’ve even garnered a writing colleague from that very circumstance. A first place finish with no feedback is nice, but not particularly useful for my reason in participating in the contest. It is pleasant to feel that your work is liked, but if you don’t know what is or isn’t working for your readership, it is harder to gauge if something could be done to magnify your impact.
Going through the comments from my last submission, I was touched and encouraged by a few thoughtful comments on my work. It struck me that rather than have those comments lost in cyberspace, that I could memorialize them here—in gratitude.
Thank you to all of my evaluators for your constructive comments on my work.
“A very exciting read. I really enjoyed these poems. I like the experimental style, because it doesn’t come out as “forced.” It’s like «the content» has decided «the shape», and so it feels natural. The poems carry with them a fascinating blend of “mundaneness & passion & longing & coolness & city life & honesty & craving,” and the richness of this whole submission really speaks to me. Great work!” — Gisle Skeie
“The poems you have penned were great views into a new world for me. I was very interested in the many journeys I was able to experience. The unique perspective and levels of description definitely separate you from other poets[…] I feel like you are never afraid to try new things and challenge tradition. The knowledge mixed with vulnerability in some of your work creates a connection that very few can escape.” — Marcus Wright
“Slim Tuesday was absolutely heart-breaking. The lines in your poem, Part [For] Me, “baby don’t call me callous when your looks are engraved in me scripted all along the back of my right shoulder” hold such powerful imagery that to call them merely beautiful seems like an insult to your artistic talent. They are raw, they are honest, and they made me feel in the depth of my heart this fire and anger and longing to be heard…god damn it! You should be proud of your work.” — Anonymous