Friday, June 23, 2006

More poetry crap

Last week, I put up a post inviting other bloggers to tell me who their favorite poets were. I got a lot of different responses, some of which I thought I'd share. Several of the suggested poets I was already familiar with: Elizabeth Bishop, Seamus Heaney, James Dickey, Mary Oliver, Pablo Neruda, Ted Kooser, Rilke, Lucille Clifton, Denise Levertov, Galway Kinnell. A few were already old favorites of mine: Sharon Olds, Kim Addonizio, Billy Collins. There were also a lot of names I wasn't familiar with: Chris Abani, Anne Carson, Gary McDowell, Linda Gregg, Anne Compton, David Whyte, Evie Christie, Lisa Robertson, and many more. And oh yeah, only one person thought the picture was weird.

I was surprised that more people didn't express their opinions with regard to the poetbloggers. A couple of people mentioned Poetry Thursday but that was about it. I think some of the best new poetry out there is being written on poetry blogs and if you're not sure what I'm talking about, take a look at some of the links to the right. There are some really strong voices out there and they're creating some extraordinary poetry.

Anyway, if you read my last post, you're aware that I'm interested in, uh, improving myself as a poet. I think the only way to learn about poetry is to read everything that's out there and get a feel for how other people write. That's why I asked everyone for their opinions, to see if I could find a good starting place.

Another part of being a good poet is learning how to give and receive criticism. It's not enough to be able to read and understand poetry; I want to be able to deconstruct it, to see what works and what doesn't. Following Justin's suggestion, I've signed up for a poetry workshop to help me out with this. I also thought I might start doing some sort of regular review here, if that doesn't seem like a totally crazy idea. At least maybe it'll turn you on to some poets you might not have read otherwise.

So, if anyone has any other ideas for poets or blogs I should read, let me know. I still have plenty of room on the list. And hopefully, this will be the last poetry-related post for a couple of days at least.


Blogger Flood said...

I think it's a great idea to do a workshop. Like Scott says, anything that gets you out of your comfort zone and vulnerable with your work is good.

6/24/2006 9:31 AM  
Blogger Carl Bryant said...

I have mixed feelings where online workshops are concerned. They have value (I've participated in many) but you must learn how to interpret criticism. And praise.

In all cases, you must understand the poet reviewing your work. Many argue from viewpoints that may radically differ from your own. Some boards are heavily postmodernist, and frown upon different styles. Some are formalist, and hold this to be the highest poetic endeavor.

Find a board that suits your style and you'll progress more rapidly. Avoid reading workshop poetry exclusively, or you'll begin to write like a workshop clone. Read a healthy mix of poetry. Read what you love.

Write what you love.

6/24/2006 1:08 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

This is all good advice and really, I need all the help I can get.

6/24/2006 2:34 PM  
Blogger Voix said...

I have no advice for you, but I love your tag line: Poetry is my bitch.

That is awesome. Kick it, sister.

6/24/2006 4:16 PM  
Blogger Quinn said...

I have a short list of poets to offer:

James Tate
Reed Bye
Johnathan Holden
Michael Ondaatje (start with The Cinnamon Peeler)
Anne Waldman
Robert Creeley
Michelle Naka Pierce's & Veronica Corpuz's book "Tri/via" ((published by Erudite Fangs/PUB LUSH)
Akilah Oliver

That's all for now.

6/24/2006 7:13 PM  
Blogger Eloise said...

It seems you have just joined the PFFA, which was a good idea, also eratosphere ( is very good, especially for metrical poetry.
There are loads of resources out there, from just hanging around the poetry blogs long enough to pick stuff up to paying for one one ones with poets online.
If you post your stuff on your blog people will often chip in with comments or critcisms.
Good luck, it seems like you are doing everything right, now it all just comes down to writing the bloody stuff.

rank beginner

6/25/2006 5:31 PM  
Blogger Rob Mackenzie said...

What Carl says makes a lot of sense. I'd add - don't write to please other people in the workshop, to get a positive reaction. Often I've learned more from why a poem I've written doesn't work than from why people think it does.

I've also learned a lot about my own writing from reading other poems closely, both workshop poems and good published poems, so I think your desire to critique well is important.

All the best.

6/25/2006 6:22 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

I am a total advocate of public exposure and criticism. It can really hurt, but if you find the right people that give it to you in moderation, it will only help your writing.

6/26/2006 7:37 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Again, thanks everyone for the advice. I feel like I'm completely starting from scratch now but maybe that's not such a bad thing. At this point, I feel like I know nothing about writing poetry so at least there's room for me to learn, right?

6/26/2006 11:34 AM  
Blogger January said...

Since you're on the East Coast, you may want to consider attending the Dodge Poetry Festival in Waterloo, NJ. As far as I can tell, It's the largest poetry festival around. It happens every 2 years, and this year the dates are Sept 29-Oct 1. I'll be there.

6/26/2006 8:24 PM  
Blogger willowtree said...

Much luck in your poetry workshop. I admire your passion and determination.

6/26/2006 8:32 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

January, that sounds awesome. I never even heard of such a thing but it sounds like a good time.

Willowtree, thanks. We'll see if it pays off.

6/27/2006 12:29 AM  
Blogger Radish King said...

I spend several years hanging around various online poetry workshops. I didn't learn a damned thing from them. Rarely did a poem I wrote get read. And the "critique" was either this stinks or I love you.

The problem with the online workshops is that everyone is new and no one knows how to critique, or everyone has been there forever, oddly, and hasn't moved on. You get mediocre help at best. The people who have been online in the same workshops for years are the most suspect. Why aren't they out doing the work?

I have no idea where you live, but look for a meat workshop or class where there is some kind of focus and experience. A mix of new and experienced writers. Take a class from someone who writes differently than you. Attend a writing conference.

Play at the poetry boards if you want, but be careful to steer your own boat. Don't write to the common denominator.

6/27/2006 2:58 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

None of my favorite poets are on your list, so here's a few more suggestions: Denis Johnson, James Tate, and Dean Young. I also just picked up Rachel Zucker's newest book, on the basis of some poems in the latest Black Clock. Great stuff.

Good luck with your reading!

6/28/2006 7:45 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Rebecca, I'm beginning to see what you mean. Some of the critiques don't really make sense so I'm kind of proceeding with caution as far as the online workshop goes. I would love to find some sort of poetry group here but the poetry scene where I live is mostly slam poetry, which is not really what I write, so I've been hesitant to approach any of them.

Matt, thanks for the suggestions. My to-be-read list is now longer than the Great Wall of China. :)

6/28/2006 3:13 PM  
Blogger Crafty Green Poet said...

Hi there, I've never done an online workshop so can't say anything on that. My absolute favourite poets are Margaret Atwood, Ruth Padel and Rebecca Elson.

6/29/2006 4:53 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home