Now that I've had a few days to recuperate from that seven-day intensive online poetry program, I've spent a bit of time this morning updating my submissions to journals, and my records. I'm planning to get busy pulling together new submissions, as quite a few selections were rejected in the last week or two of spring term.
After only three days off, I launched into the intensive Community of Writers schedule, so I'm taking this week off, for the most part--I've slept in until almost 6 am a few days, I've loafed around, spent too much time on my phone, and put a bit of time into straightening up my hell-hole of a house. I'm still dealing with my knee injury, and the weather has been excessively hot, so my yard and garden are a mess. This year's veggie garden is likely going to be mostly a loss, though I think I'll be able to get the tomatoes on track with some pruning this week. Summer classes start on Monday or Tuesday, but it's just one literature section, online, so I'm not too stressed about it. I'll probably spend some time getting the course shell together on Sunday--leaving me a few more days of decompression.
So, the workshop last week! It's an interesting concept--we workshop every morning, after submitting a brand new poem we've written in the 24 hours since the last workshop. All comments are focused on what's working--not on suggestions or constructive criticism. We meet in the afternoons for an hour-long craft talk. Everyone, in theory, leaves the week with seven brand-new works. I was able to do that--though it felt really impossible on a few mornings, as I was writing at 4:00 am to make deadline.
I wrote seven new works, and all of them are narrative/confessional, which certainly tinges much of my work, but I think of narrative poems as what I wrote when I was younger. This week, though, I wasn't really able to wait for a better topic or a better avenue into a new draft. Five of the seven poems are about my second marriage, and one is about my first marriage, and one is about marriage in general.: )
I realized, as a key takeaway, that I made a habit of not openly talking about the awful aspects of that second marriage. I didn't talk about it, because if I didn't cross that threshold, my ex wouldn't do so, either. While there were a lot of hard feelings on both sides of the divorce, it was kept off Facebook and our mutual friends weren't asked to pick sides. I felt good about that, and I still do. What I'm finding, though, is that much of my feelings from that time have been entirely unexplored in my writing. So, I think that topic was something I grabbed out of desperation on the first morning of the workshop, and that first poem just opened the floodgates. It was cathartic, and it was therapeutic, too. I feel lighter as a result. I really don't know if those poems will go any further, but a few of them have some promise. I'm grateful for having written them.
As for the rest of the week, the craft talks were insightful, and I met some truly wonderful poets in my fellow participants. I am hopeful that a few of us might start writing together via Zoom on occasion, or at the very least, workshop each other's drafts. The poets leading this week were gracious and brilliant and encouraging and very human. All writers have a public persona, so my impressions of them, even the poets who I've seen read before, are richer because of this experience. They each had something valuable to impart to us.
I had a few instances of feeling less than worthy of the experience, because the work I was generating is not indicative of my practiced, revised work--but I worked hard to quash these feelings and not get caught up in worrying about who was better than me and who acted as though they thought they were better than me. That competitive edge to workshop is a bad habit I picked up in graduate school. I feel I focus much more now on what is working in another poet's writing, and I am working on asking questions versus making suggestions for revision. This week was great practice, and honestly--my fellow participants had a lot to offer. They pointed out choices in repetition I'd not really been aware of, and on point of view, and I took lots of notes in order to apply "what's working" to other poems. I am so glad I applied, and I will apply again in two years when I'm permitted to try again.
One of the participants whose work I really liked has entered at least a few of the first book awards that I've entered this year--I only know so because he made the list of finalists for one of them. His work is incredible, and I don't think it will be long before he's offered a contract. I look forward to reading his work in print.
Well, that entry is all over the place. I'll be back to writing with a bit more frequency now that finals are over and the poetry week has concluded.