“You need to find a writing group.”
This was the repeated answer to my question: “How can I obtain feedback on my writing, so I can write better poetry?”
Finding a writing group meant searching for a collection of writers and poets who would read their work, and listen to mine, then share comments with one another, share critiques, suggestions, challenges and advice.
For example: This line works. This image doesn’t, because…. This isn’t poetry; this is prose. What are you trying to say? This has no emotional impact. This word really pulls this together. This gives an impression of beauty, but so what? That is a fresh metaphor. Wow, that’s great. I’m not sure what you’re trying to say. You need to take another look at this. That’s a slippery ending. Is there something more you want to say here?
To be in a writing group, I had to learn to be open to what others said about my work, without comment, without argument, without feeling offended. Learning to be a better writer, a better poet required tight listening, willingness to change and to explore different ways of expressing myself. Like learning any skill, I had to try and try again, to figure out what worked, what didn’t, why a change was needed and how to adjust what I was doing.
I am still learning and will continue to do so. It feels like learning to swim. I can float but want to be able to do more than a dog paddle.
A little over a year ago, a writing group invited me to join them. I am so grateful for these writers and poets. They have been kind and honest, wise and funny, and always supportive. They have pushed my growing edges and kicked me into the deep end of the pool. Every so often, I write a poem with which I am pleased. And without swallowing too much water, I can now keep my head above the waterline and am learning to write better poetry.
Thank you to Elizabeth Blanchard, Allan Cooper, Beth Janzen, Kerry-Lee Powell, Lee Thompson and Andre Touchburn. I appreciate each of you, your differing gifts, your shared talents and wisdom. Thank you for welcoming me and for the opportunity to be in this writing group with all of you.