Thanks for your comment.
First, congratulations on posting your poem. The double-edged sword for every writer or aspiring author is the risk taken by voluntarily putting your work out in public for critique and consumption. It takes courage and fortitude to step on the path where others will not only have the opportunity to read what you have written, but also have the chance to comment on it.
I’d like to start this answer with two quotes, one I’ sure you know, the other, maybe not.
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” This saying is applicable to many instances and events of life, including yours. One of the major emotions of life is how we each as individuals handle rejection. This is particularly true for the writer or artist, for our works are roundly rejected time and time again. This is the primary reason most writers never get to the publishing stage; a fear of rejection and the anticipated negative comments from others.
Early on in my writing career I realized there are only going to be as many people as there are, who may be attracted to my work and identify with it. (They may identify either positively or negatively.) Of those in both groups, one or more may comment as to their feelings or response to that which I have written.
As with every creative endeavor, the reaction or response is in the eye of the beholder. That’s to say, everyone exposed to your (or my) work is going to have a subjective opinion and these can/will vary from individual to individual. The Arts are always viewed subjectively by the public and therefore the author, writer or artist can expect the reactions and comments to be spread across the spectrum. A piece or poem, which cuts to the bone, stabs the heart, touches a nerve or strikes a chord is dependent upon the work, the reader, the emotions and issues addressed by the author and most of all, the connection (or not) if any, of the poem to the reader.
Likewise, a comment may help us to see something we missed in our writing. I believe the most important aspect of writing is the editing, and sometimes we as writers can be too close to our work. We read and reread, over and over while missing a mistake or detail, which we may read right through.
This brings me to the second quote. This one I have on my desk for instances like the one you are writing about. Samuel Johnson said, “It is advantageous to an author that his book should be attacked as well as praised. Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck at only one end of the room, it will soon fall to the ground. To keep it up, it must be struck at both ends.”
Now, although this addresses more of a career, it can certainly be applied to a single poem or submission as well.
Remember, even if someone comments negatively about your work: 1. They read it. 2. It did make an impression. And 3. It connected with them enough to move them to action by commenting. So all in all, your job as a writer was a success.
The only way you can lose in this scenario is to respond in kind to one of his poems.
As a reviewer of others’ work I have a few general rules which I follow. I never comment, unless the writer has requested such. I try to focus on the work, and not the author. And I always attempt to state something positive or helpfully corrective as well.
Remember, comments are subjective. You never know where a reader is in their life or situation, so you never know how your work is going to strike them at any given moment. And you are writing for those readers with whom you have a connection. It’s this connection that keeps them coming back for more.
All the best,
In the Hawaiian language, "Mana'o" (ma na o) is the word used to describe 'thoughts, ideas, and opinions'.
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