Does that sound like a confession? Maybe it is.
If I don’t make every meeting it’s because sometimes I’ve not caught up with myself. Otherwise, one evening per month should be achievable, and it’s etched not only in my diary, but into my memory.
I look forward to my two hours with Miki Byrne, and the gathering of local poets she hosts. Some are published, some are not. It doesn’t matter which any of us are. One of the best things about the various writing groups I’ve been to is that our interest in writing creates a common ground, and a safe space to experiment in.
I think of myself as a prose-writer, but I do love poetry. There are poems that I go back to over and over, at critical moments, or for reflection, mood, and inspiration. Want to write with economy, depth and precision? Here’s a form of literature that demonstrates some of the most intriguing and exciting ways it can be done.
In the poetry group we share the risk of words.
And I do mean risk. My adrenalin flows.
I go to be challenged. A topic is introduced. I start with nothing, but a warm-up writing exercise soon provides ideas. As the exercise progresses, I untangle the threads of my thoughts, take up one of them and follow it. I don’t know where it’s going, or what I’m going to say, but along with everyone else, I’m writing myself into a scenario. Images are forming, building, becoming something I’m intrigued by, linking into ideas that matter to me.
We’re all in the same boat, with the same supplies, yet we each produce something individual. Yes, these pieces are rough, but they’re first, or at most, second drafts.
We read them out, half-made as they are. That’s not about bravery, it’s a chance to get some instant feedback. This is not the time for in-depth critiques (that happens at a later stage), the audience and I are hearing my words, as I will hear theirs, for the first time.
Sharing gives us some ideas about important questions, such as:
- Does it flow?
- Does it say something?
- What did I like about it?
- Which part caught their attention?
- Where might I expand it?
Everyone reads, maybe initially that’s because everyone else reads. But ultimately, in my observation, they read because not to read is to miss-out on a vital part of the process.
The poetry group is giving me a portfolio of ideas to work on, ideas that I might not have stumbled on, drifting along on my own. Some may not go anywhere: but I go back to most of them, sooner of later.