...quiet, about a lot of things...

Monday, August 20, 2007


I am to bring a poem to be "workshopped" to class on Thursday....I don't know what this means exactly...Do I bring something I am fond of..and have them rip into it??...Do I bring one of my many off the cuff, less than average poems..in hopes they can help??...Or do I develop a stubborn "cough cough"..and wuss out.

I have been e-mailed this weeks critiqued poems..We work one week out....They are both good...but vague in that mystery poet sense. My poems, if you have been here long are pretty standard stuff. No IQ required. I write simple poems for I am a simple girl.....ughh..

Anyone have any suggestions?... It's on Thursday. Oh yeah...I said that already....
posted by wendy at 8:05 PM


Hi there,

I am pretty new to writing. And was petrified (to the point of nearly puking) when I first workshopped something.

I am not exactly an old hand, but can say that good, qualified instructors will not hang you out to dry. Both (see how limited I am?) my teaches (in three different classes) laid out ground rules (based on the Iowa workshop method--I was impressed) that had the person read their work, and had each workshopper (or on an assigned rotation) respond to the work in a way that was directed to the narrator and specifically not to the person who wrote it.

The writer was to only listen (eyes down with my hand on forehead covered by long bangs--I didn't cut them for a while!--kept me feeling protected under guise and actual habit of writing down most everything.) And the writer was not to engage in dialog. No Q & A. Just resonses to the writing. Usually an expression of what the reader thought the writer was saying, how it makde them feel. Parts they liked, parts they were confused by. The readers were to be respectful and not share anything outside of the room. It was to be constructive and not personal in any way.

That helped.

My teachers said that if we were ever in a workshop or group that made us feel devalued or frightened to get the hell out of there.

That also helped.

I haven't had to do it. But I know I can walk out if I am in a wrongly-directed group.

Coincidently, I am reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. Just this morning I read the chapter Writing Groups, and it started with workshops. I kid you not. Get yourself to a bookstore and read it. She is so flipping funny and wise. And she uses my favorite work: f@ck. Even with being a christian. If you can't find it email me at flkr at comcast dot net and I will make an illiegal pdf of a few pages and email it to you. (She is a fiction writer, btu lots of the stuff abotu how you write are helpful to me.)

Now. As to what to read. Take something you like. Something you want feedback on. Pretend it is me or one of your PT pals.

You write so well. I love your stuff.


Hope this helps.

8/21/07, 1:16 PM  


Thanks for the thoughtful response. It all really helped. Since I was late,I missed all the ground rules. I'm sure they are much the same as you described.

Thanks for being so candid and real.

I, coincidently, am reading Annes new book..grace eventually. I have bird by bird...I'll go dig it up.

I love my pals here. big kiss.

8/21/07, 4:58 PM  

I agree about Bird By Bird. Everything Anne Lamott writes is wonderful. Do you love Grace, Eventually? I have that, too!

Go to your workshop. Take what they say with a grain of salt (unless they all agree it is wonderful, then just smile and nod modestly because you know it's true).

8/21/07, 10:49 PM  

I might be too late to add my bit ... I just hope you get something you can take away with you from the workshop and come away energised and inspired - that's the main thing. Too many dreary mysterious poems, I'd find a bit of a drag too. I reckon your refreshing, real poems will knock their socks off. You just go blow them out of the water with your wonderful candour.

8/22/07, 1:52 AM  

Hee hee - the word verification under my comment above was fogricy - I couldn't help thinking it sounded like a fitting adjective for those dreadful 'mysteriously' vague poems!!!! (A combination of 'foggy' and 'hypocrisy' maybe?)

8/22/07, 1:55 AM  

LOL I am going to add that word to my vocabulary! It is wonderful. Wendy, if not this time, next. When you come across an obscure poem (as mine often are) write, or say it right out loud: "Fogricy!"

8/22/07, 2:29 PM  

I am starting a class for workshopping a novel so your replies were really timely information for me. Thanks!

9/2/07, 9:28 AM  

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