Being active in poetry criticism is one of the best ways to carve out an idea of poetry firm enough to stand up to the public demands of a career as a poet. ~ Annie Finch
This would, of course, apply to any of the arts. Shoot, it would apply to ditch-digging. It's one of the reasons I write reviews -- to get my thoughts straight about why I like or dislike something and apply it to my own work.
I'll admit it: I've written my share of 'puff' reviews of work by friends. But if I truly disliked any of it, I would have declined to write a review at all. It's a good exercise to dig in and find just what aspects are worthy of compliment. Ignoring, of course, the weak points or, at least, glossing over them.
Chances are I'm a little too nice most of the time anyway. It's not really in me to savage other folks' work. I respect anyone who is willing to do anything and put it out there.
The exception being those who rub me the wrong way by espousing a viewpoint I find morally repugnant. If you are evil, I will say so. And then come burn down your village. :D
By the way, I do maintain a little review site/blog where I occasionally post: http://rangerreviews.wordpress.com
Stephen Brooke ©2012