Tips for Helpful Feedback
The goal of this blog is for readers to provide encouragement and feedback for our young writers, and also to build connections with incarcerated Free Minds members and the outside world. This is often their first attempt at creative writing. Behind bars, they sometimes feel as though the world has forgotten about them. Our writers look forward to hearing how others have been affected by their writing. Every week we print out the comments and pass them along to the poets. This positive feedback helps them find their voices as writers and inspires them to continue writing.
Tips for Giving Feedback:
1. Always begin with something positive—an aspect, character, or style that worked for you. We are trying to provide suggestions for making it better, and turning something good into something great.
2. Feedback should ideally be specific and concrete, giving the writer a particular element to focus on in their revisions.
3. It is also helpful if you can describe how the poem made you feel (happy, sad, etc.) or what it made you think.
4. End with a suggestion for what you would like to read more of. Recognize the courage it took for them to write these poems.
Examples of feedback for poetry:
“Remembering a Photo”
I am fly with a blue sweat suit on
Big ears, big head, and a tall body
My mother calls me Sweet Pea
I am fresh with the new Jordan #3’s
And a white t-shirt on
I am remembering a photo
I really like the concept and brevity of this poem. You do an excellent job of giving the reader just enough details to imagine the whole picture. I especially love the first three lines. I do think, though, that the last line could be better. We know that you are remembering a photo since it is the title of the poem, so I would like, as a reader, for the last line to suggest something more about the poem, maybe something about how this memory makes you feel, or what you think about your past self. This is an excellent start, and has the potential to be a really excellent poem. Keep writing!
I refuse to stay in park and become rusty and old
I want my value to go up
So I’ll always be worth bein’ sold
You can be stubborn and stay the same
But I’ma make a quick change
Like a Lambo switching lanes
Tryin’ to get to its destination
One thing people fail to do
Is make change–a revelation
You need it to get places in life
Well I’ma make an upgrade
While you clowns stay in clown stage
I hate the saying “One apple can spoil a bunch”
Comparin’ apples with humans
Apple don’t have brain human do
I’m glad unique sticks to me like glue
I’m daring to be different
I’m feeling sick with change-like symptoms
I love the images you’ve created with this poem. The overall metaphor of yourself as a car and life as a road makes the poem really stand out. It’s also very easy to see, and that makes the poem fun to read. The poem has a really good rhythm too, especially in this line: “Is make change–a revelation.” The break in the middle of that line is really interesting, and opens the poem up to different ways of reading it. One thing that I would like to see, though, is the connection between “While you clowns stay in clown stage” and “I hate the saying…” Keep doing what you’re doing. I love the way you have made concepts like change very specific things that the reader can relate to. For example, “I’m glad unique sticks to me like glue” is an excellent use of words and rhythm, but it’s also very cool in that it takes a big idea like ‘unique’ and connects it to the everyday world. I see some of that in the title and the last line too, “change-like symptoms,” which relates change to your physical body and really makes the reader think. Excellent work. Keep writing!
The poets featured here are currently incarcerated, and many of them are in federal prisons far from home. Your feedback is a valuable source of motivation and connection to the outside community. Post your comments, feedback, and encouragement in the space below the poem. Messages will be passed on directly to the author. Comments may not appear immediately on the site, as our team processes them to mail to the poets.