Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Poetry Workshop

I just want to express a couple of thoughts on workshops, poetry workshops in particular. You know, those meetings whose main purpose is to provide a forum for a poet to present his work before an audience of his peers, and receive considered feedback rather than instant reaction.

We're not considering closed groups here. Those also have a role to play; they become intimate as the members grow together. This is about open groups, no membership required.

There are several things you should be aware of when participating. Because you approach the group for a stated purpose, to receive critical assistance, don't bring a poem which you don't believe you should change, that you think is so good that you just want to show what you can do. Your friends and peers may well cut it to ribbons to show you how they would improve it. If you don't think a poem needs improvement, don't bring it. The group is not there to heap praise; don't expect it.

Also consider this. Since it is not a closed group but open to anyone expressing an interest, making a presentation to such an audience can be considered a form of publication, especially if hard copies of your work are distributed. You have very little control over what happens to those copies in the hands of your "public."

Just a few things to consider. Remember, when you ask a friend to become a critic he also becomes an antagonist. Usually the frienship remains unharmed.

1 comment:

Carolyn said...

Very interesting. I am a member of a closed group, and I have also put my work up for critique in open groups. They can be very different, but the thing to always keep in mind is that it is your poem, and any changes made to it are up to you, nobody else.

It is useful to get feedback and it can lead your poem to a much better place. I've recently experienced this, and the end result is far better than the poem first put up before an audience.

If you think your work is perfect put it up for publication, not for a critique.