Over at Harriet John O’Connor writes a nice piece in which he comments about comments (of teachers on students’ writing). He says he always tries to be encouraging and positive. Colin Ward adds in a comment (on the comment on comments) that it is more important to be truthful than kind, to not trade in candour for encouragement. I think if it was a choice between one or the other I would more often than not prefer candour over encouragement (but not always, depends on the situation). In any case, I completely agree that there is little point that only being positive about anything is (again usually) not going to help someone very much further. But. Just wondering why we can’t simply have a bit of both (in variable doses, depending on the circumstance).
I am all for forthright and harsh criticism (not that I’m any good at it), as long as it is not resentful, as long as, ultimately, it is coming from a place of affirmation. There is way too much resentment in the poetry community (well, thinking mainly of online comment boxes now. Also, of course there is resentment in any sub-culture really, but no less so in poetry circles). So affirmative criticism, not in the meaning of only always positive. But, yes, in the sense of exploring potential instead of putting down whatever is supposedly lacking in a piece of writing.