It is imperative to have someone who can read any poem you want and critique it. This is not family, not ever. This should be someone whom you trust, someone who knows poetry and someone who will not mince words but shoot straight even if it kills the poem. For those who have the bucks there are good poets in the business of mentoring. I have worked off and on for years with Baron Wormser. I don't know if he is taking students now. The poets offering their services often charge a rate that includes reading and preparing comments on your poem or selection of poems followed by either an online or telephonic hour of discussion. Typically they want a continuing series of sessions regularly scheduled over time. I have seen charges from $25 to $100 per session. Failing that, seek out someone who has taught courses, workshops or who has read in your area and see if they are available. Failing even that, go to another writer and offer to exchange the service for each other. Have patience with the process of finding a reader/critic. It is often a long search to find someone sufficiently compatible. The payoff is that the relationship may last a very long and productive time.
In the next post I will discuss how I make best use of my mentor.
So long for now.