We Need to Talk: A New Method for Evaluating Poetry

Author: Michael Theune, Bob Broad

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We evaluate poems constantly: as workshop leaders, competition judges and journal editors. But how do we judge the success of verse in these contexts? The authors propose an innovative method by which anyone involved in the assessment of poetry can be more transparent about how they value verse. This book foregrounds the ethical and professional obligations of poets, teachers and critics to conduct axiological inquiry so they can discover and publish what they value. We Need to Talk suggests why and how people who care about poetry should communally explore and document their shared (and conflicting) values. This is the first book to provide the background and theory, as well as a practical, working model, for the communal, empirical evaluation of creative writing.

Theune and Broad boldly draw from criteria mapping in composition studies to offer a deeper understanding of how we judge and value poems. Applicable from undergraduate classrooms to editorial boards of literary journals, this book asserts an ethical and aesthetic responsibility in our role as evaluators of poetry and contributes to positively shaping the landscape of contemporary poetry. This is a terrific addition to the New Writing Viewpoints series.

Anna Leahy, Chapman University, USA

I've long known that Michael Theune is one of the best poetic minds of my generation, and after reading We Need to Talk, I'm inclined to add Bob Broad to that select group. Drawing on a wide range of studies and assessment measures, Theune and Broad have mapped out new ways for teachers, editors, and contest judges to think – and talk – about the ways in which they evaluate poetry. This book will revolutionize your classroom, your editorial board meetings, your MFA admissions committee.

Tom C. Hunley, Western Kentucky University, USA

Theune and Broad provide fascinating insights into how poetic value systems are formed, as well as a dynamic procedure for defining them. This book deserves to be widely read by students and teachers of creative writing, poetry editors and anthologists, and anyone interested in the perplexing question of how to uncover and articulate poetic values.

Tim Mayers, Millersville University, USA

Michael Theune is Professor of English at Illinois Wesleyan University, USA.

Bob Broad is Professor of English at Illinois State University, USA.

Foreword to We Need to Talk

Introduction: Show Your Work!

Chapter 1: Opening the Doors to Inquiry              

Chapter 2: The Contemporary American Poetry Editorial Review (C.A.P.E.R.) Investigation—A PDCM Case Study

Chapter 3: A Chorus of Voices Reflecting on the C.A.P.E.R. Project

Chapter 4: Promising Applications of and Futures for Poetry Dynamic Criteria Mapping

Chapter 5: Do It Yourself



Biographical notes on authors

Postgraduate, Research / Professional
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