Thursday, July 16, 2009

Why is validation for your poems so important?

I have so enjoyed this week.  It's like a real vacation and I haven't thought about work or my responsibilities at all.  I wake up, get myself off to breakfast and then to my workshop with the fabulous Mark Doty and all the other chapbookers in my class.  There are 15 of us plus Mark.  I feel that I'm learning a great deal about how to read poems in a very warm, safe and loving environment, and in a fairly brief period of time.  Mark is a great teacher and I highly recommend him to anyone!

Each day we do either 2 or 3 students.  This means we go over each collection of poems for approximately 35 minutes.  We have all read all the poems prior to the workshop--almost 400 in total.  We are predominantly looking at the form of the chapbook, but we review individual poems at times.  Many of my classmates have already published a fair number of poems, chapbooks and even books, and all of them are very well read.  They have been especially kind to me because I haven't.  I feel out of my depth most of the time.  I get symbols, mood, tone etc., but I am not well read in poetry and do not have much to recommend.

I was the 3rd student to read--my classmates picked out two poems they wanted me to read.  They knew much more about the poems than I did, they had given them such a close reading, and in many cases several close readings.  They said things like quirky, creative, interior, funny, etc.  My cheeks were bursting to smile I was so happy.  This was pretty scary for me to do.  The poems have been put away for about 12-15 years due to tragedy and pain.

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