I've been regularly attending poetry meeting/readings at Landmark Booksellers and gotten a bit familiar with the regulars. Not everyone is at every meeting, but those that miss one are generally at the next. Occasionally there is a new face and voice.
Last night there was a woman who had made nearly an hour's drive to join us. She mentioned that she had been "thrown out" of another group she'd been meeting with. It's possible they didn't actually ask to her to leave, but being driven out by negativity is the same thing. She told us the other group members had criticized her poetry - which is different from critiquing - because her work wasn't ready for publication (perhaps because she wasn't aiming for publication) and even made negative comments when she chose to use unusual font she thought was appropriate for a particular poem.
The Landmark readings are just that - readings. The attendees don't critique or discuss what is read, although appreciative comments and occasional questions are encouraged. In fact, appreciation and encouragement are one of the main reasons for the meetings.
This woman, who had not been to a Landmark reading before, did read some of her work and it was quite good. Several listeners commented on aspects that we liked and I hope she recognized that we were sincere and not patronizing. I hope she will join us again and realize that those who criticized her work lacked the ability to appreciate her poetry.
I am always dismayed when I hear stories of writers (or artists of any ilk) discouraging other writers. True writers and artists should - and I believe most are - be positive toward others' work and art, whatever the level (or lack) of expertise and whatever their personal feelings about it may be. We need the support of others like ourselves, who know and understand our struggles and triumphs in a way that non-creative types can't.