Thursday, June 18, 2015

Workshops.

Life's been pretty darn nice lately.

It's summer and I have all the time in the world to write. Typically, what that means is I stare at my computer and get angry with myself for not having enough ideas. This summer, though, that's not happening at all. I've been writing writing writing.

I've also been participating in several different forms of online workshops, which is helping me immensely, too, to keep on track with not only developing new material, but also revising and polishing my work, which I find just as important (if not more). So the two different types of workshops I participate in are a Skype-type workshop, live with a small group of poets, and then, an online poetry forum called Eratosphere.

The first type of workshop is fairly new to me. I think it was around March that one of my Facebook friends, Terry, from Houston posted something about wanting to start an online poetry group. I'm always up for something new, so I asked him if I could join. It turned out to just be him and one other poet, also from the Houston area. Our workshops are fairly informal. We "meet" online once every two weeks for about two hours. We each read a poem and then the other two poets discuss it, giving suggestions for improvement. It works out pretty nicely because we're all good sports, practicing poets, and open to criticism (super important!). It's been hugely beneficial for me for a couple of reasons -- first, it keeps me writing. Every two weeks, I feel the need to have SOMETHING to show for myself. Second, it helps me gauge the reception of my work. Now, Terry and Laura are super nice and never tell me something sucks, but they're more enthusiastic about some pieces than others, which is good to be aware of. Third, it gives me direction for revision and a sense as to how readers view my work. And lastly, it helps me to see and reflect on other poets' writing processes. Terry, Laura and I are all very different in terms of our poetics. I'm a formalist. Neither of them dabble in formal poetry -- Terry's work is very modernist/minimalist with swathes of philosophy woven in. Laura writes colorful imagist work with bits of regionalism mixed in. I think that's a good thing, though. We learn from one another.

The other workshop group I participate in is Eratosphere. I've been an on again, off again member there since 2011. The only reason I end up going away is just because being an integral member of this community is very time consuming, but I always find that my time there is well spent. The poets there are very serious about their craft, so they make me be serious about my craft, too, paying attention to each syllable and sound. It feels good to be back!

Anyway, workshopping makes my work better. I'm so glad that this summer, I've been able to jump in and get some feedback, talk to other poets, and ultimately, learn and grow in my craft. There's nothing better. So between writing, conversing with other poets, critiquing, revising, polishing, and writing some more, my days are pretty occupied.

I would like to add some kind of a face-to-face local aspect to my workshop regiment, but I've really honestly never had much luck in that department here. I've tried starting my own workshops, and while I'm good at drumming up a team, no one stays committed to it. I've tried joining other peoples' workshop groups, but it looks like they have a similar type of problem. So bleh. Maybe someday I'll find a group of dedicated poets to workshop with, but until then, I am doing pretty darn good with online workshops. We shall see.

Meanwhile, long distance workshops are suiting me pretty nicely :)

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