Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Poetry Work-shops

Today I am recommending writing work-shops, but three years ago I was afraid of them. Fear and feeling intimidated by people who have spent more of their life writing professionally or working as teachers was my excuse.

Why are work-shops important?

The writers workshop format is an effective method to review, evaluate, and improve writing skills. The general structure of a writers workshop has a group of ``discussants'' who listen to you reading your work before the session. During the workshop the discussants examine the strengths and weaknesses of each person's paper, accentuating positive aspects and suggesting improvements in content and style.

The Delaware Valley and US-1 Princeton Poets meet once a month, and on different days of the week. I took several of my previous published poems to the workshops. Tonight I returned after two years. Funny Joe who mediates DVP, he called me the prodigal daughter. They had wondered what happened to me, since many said they enjoyed my writing.

The group work-shopped one of my newer poems 'At The Root Of The Willows'. Jessie had already told me she felt it was complete, and to sent it out for submission, but I was still up in the air about my punctuation. Several of the poets are teachers, and retired teachers, so they helped me with punctuation. It was unanimous, the poem needed no other work, and they really liked it. Again I walked away feeling confident in my writing.

Jessie will be glad to know I also felt more confident to add suggestions to the other poets work as we went around the table.

Why am I sharing this? Because I am returning each month, along with my writing partner Marybeth. I will also be attending the open mics held at the Princeton college. I had felt they were to upper brow for me, but now I feel like an equal. It also helps that I learned one of my fathers uncles was a Princeton graduate; as well as my MFA instructor from the class I have been auditing encouraged me to read- Jean feels my writing should be heard.

I have not written much the past weekend because of work and social activities, but this weekend I will be working on some older pieces for class and my workshops. I really appreciate all the help I have gotten from readers, poets, and new friends from class.

Balance has been a tricky thing these past weeks. I have been asked to consult with a new kitchen, and we will be making food for local homeless groups. I am sure I can manage it all, I like being busy!

Here is also a great blog on writing- Author Culture has a piece of this week about critiquing others work- How to Offer Beneficial Critiquing by Lynette Bonner.

Jessie also (I would think) has tips on critiquing others works in a professional and courteous manner, and maybe she would consent to guest blog for me on the subject!


farmlady said...

Oh Elizabeth, I'm so proud of you. Just remember that when you publish your first book of poetry I want a signed copy.
I just know you are going in the right direction.

Jessie Carty said...

So glad you are doing the workshopping! I have found it invaluable. The people I met during my MFA program are still people who read my work today!!

Debbie said...

I think that is so great, Elizabeth! :) It's giving you confidence and experience that will only continue to help you as you write. yay!!!
You know, I probably would've had a bad outlook on it too, but for the wonderful experience of Jessie's blog and our Thurs. poem share days and now the MFA Mondays. :)

Toon said...

I took Lynda Barry's workshop some nine years ago and it really changed my whole creative perspective. I worship her!