I normally don't venture into these discussions, but I tend to be coming from the same place as Rex on this issue. I know that certainly, had this place not held the warm family atmosphere that it does ... I would not have continued to be a part of it.
Someone in another thread was discussing the other sites where one can post poetry, and I do recall making the comment that if they are truly that harsh ... I'd have hung my head and crawled away after one post. Personally, critical analysis is not my main focus (though you guys may convince me to try it yet, with all this advertising, LOL). I did investigate a few other sites at the time, and was appalled at some of the comments to poetry. Clearly they are not the kind of place I could personally exist, but others do receive some type of satisfaction in that, which is fine if that is what they are looking for.
I, on the other hand, am one who writes as a form of therapy for myself (as Chris described above), and if something I write touches the heart of another, that is an added reward ... it sounds cliché, but it is true. Passions has given me the venue to widen my audience beyond friends, family and co-workers, for which I'm incredibly grateful. I've watched many poets grow and improve over time, and have been reading in the forums long before I was posting. Though I've been writing for 30 years, I still consider myself a novice, but I have personally written more poems in the last 6 months than I have in the last 6 years, and I can directly attribute this to the incredible encouragement I've received from my peers here in the Forums, be they long encouraging paragraphs, or a short "great job". Looking back, I can clearly see that I have posted some that were not "my best", however those who took the time to give me an encouraging word nonetheless, kept me posting, and I appreciate each and every pat on the back, large or small. I truly hope I am improving, and perhaps I will venture into CA when I am ready. In the meantime, some may think me naïve, but I will continue to feel that each response I receive is genuine, as I reciprocate my sincerity in every response I write.
I received a note from a reader on the main site just tonight, who commented on what an incredible site this was, and found myself extremely proud to respond and tell him about the wonderful family atmosphere behind the scenes, and I meant every word ... OK, so now enough of my cheerleading, I'm sorry, but I just love this place, I'll shut up now!