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Monday, June 24, 2013

Spring Writers' Retreat 2013 with Ian LeTourneau

Spring Writers’ Retreat 2013 with Ian LeTourneau
I don’t know what I don’t know about writing poetry.  That’s annoying.  That’s also the way it is. 

Receiving feedback on my poems teaches me how to improve them.  However, one of my challenges in learning anything is this: I am a visual, tactile learner.  Hearing comments is helpful, but seeing them written is better.  Better still is sitting with someone who can tell me how to improve what I’ve written and show me how to change the poem around; show me on paper. Then I “get it.”  I see, I learn.  I can capture the concept in my mind and retain it.
The SpringWriters’ Retreat offered by University of New Brunswick provided the opportunities I needed.  In addition to time learning from and socializing with other writers, I submitted ten pages of my writing to share and to be critiqued.  Each of us did.  I read my poems aloud and then made note of the comments on my work, from Ian LeTourneau, the instructor, and from the other writers.  Any feedback given was positive and constructive.  No personal attacks or personality issues were permitted.  After everyone had commented, I had a chance to ask questions or make my own remarks.  We spent all day Saturday rotating turns reading our work and listening and critiquing.
An added bonus for me was receiving written feedback from three writers.  I took these pages home where I could study their suggestions.  These three didn’t make comments and leave it there, they wrote notes explaining to me why something worked well or didn’t work.  Those explanations were gold.
On Sunday, I met one-on-one with Ian LeTourneau to ask questions and to receive advice.  He explained in thoughtful detail a concept I had misunderstood.  He suggested a book for further study.  His feedback was encouraging, yet realistic and truthful.  I left with new lights on in my mind and optimism about my writing journey.
Prior to the retreat, I had received the copies of the other writers’ work.  For two days, I poured over their words, making notes on what worked and why, what wasn’t clear, what made me green with envy, and most challenging, what didn’t work and why.  To my surprise, I learned more from the discipline of having to write why something didn’t work in their submissions, than from making the easier comments on what did and why.
It’s been over a week since I attended the Spring Writers’ Retreat.  I’m still processing what I learned.  I’m grateful to have been in the company of writers for three days, for their casual conversations about their own writing, for their questions and their critiques. 
It was a fine way to learn what I don’t know about my own poetry writing.  
I'd go again in a minute.
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Fireblossom said...

It's really neat that you've delved into this and are discovering some new things about writing!

Carol Steel said...

Thanks Fireblossom. I have learned much but am also painfully aware of how much I still have to learn about writing poetry...especially about writing fine poetry, like you do so well. Thanks for your comment.

Rambling Woods said...

You are brave... I am not a writer but feel uncertain about some of my more creative projects .... But I feel more vulnerable than normal now.... Glad you got so much out of it... Michelle

Scriptor Senex said...

I too am a visual, tactile learner. Even in my school days (long ago) I found listening to the teacher nowhere near as effective as reading a book or seeing things on the blackboard.
It sounds as though you really got a lot out of it and it's great when things like this prove worthwhile.

Carol Steel said...

Hello Michelle,
Thanks I did learn a lot from the retreat. Now I know more about faults in my writing and can work to avoid those.

Carol Steel said...

Hi Scriptor Senex,
Thanks for the comment and for empathy with learning styles. I feel lucky to have been able to benefit from such kind and wise mentors.