I’m a talker; I like to talk. I’m also a fan of thinking out loud, discovering thoughts and ideas as I say them — very often it feels like the space between a thought and the words hanging in the air are indistinguishable (this has it’s pros and cons).
Needless to say, I love workshop. Sometimes I come in feeling like I haven’t had an interesting thought all week, but all it takes is hearing one of my peers’ sharp observations to set me off in a hundred different directions! I end up leaving class in the evening more awake that I was when I got there. The way I learned poetry, both to read and to write it, began in class workshops. Now, as I’m coming to the end of my time in college, I wonder what I will do without it.
It feels like a contradiction. Poetry forces me to take the time to say things that I know I’d botch on the first try. It demands revision and reflection, makes me hang on to words instead of letting them all fly away. In a very short time it’s become something very important to me. Yet, despite all the introspection involved, I think of it as a social thing. We talk about writing being personal and vulnerable, which it can be, but it also flourishes most when under the scrutiny of our fellow writers. My experience of poetry has become very closely tied to the idea that I will have this community of people to share it with, to offer me perspective, and motivation. I don’t have anyone outside of this little pocket of student-poets who think, and talk, and care about poetry in the same way.
It can seem like the Venn diagram of people who read poetry and people who write it is a circle; Lord knows I read exponentially more poetry now that I’m trying to write it than I ever did before. It feels important, because of this, that we know each other, and know how to find each other.
I want to know: Do you have a community of poets, outside of workshop classes? Poet-friends, online acquaintances?
And: What do you do to keep yourself sharp when you’re the only one reading your poems?