I’m continually amazed at the number of poets on WordPress. More specifically, I’m amazed by how many terrible poets there are here.
When I got to college, like most young and dumb writers, I thought I was a hell of a poet. It was a tough road to realize that I wasn’t.
My Junior level Creative Writing course was taught by a bitchy woman who hated poets, so I took everything she said with a heaping spoonful of salt. I think she was a woman who’s writing career failed early and had to start teaching to pay the bills. She was all sorts of pent up, angry, bitchy, and depressing. She had a lot to say but I didn’t learn much there, I just put my head down and powered through it.
The Senior level course was totally the opposite. It was taught by a fantastic, bubbly, published poet… but she was hard on my writing too. The two teachers said a lot of the same things but, unlike the previous one, I actually listened to the Senior teacher. And realized… Gasp, that I was a terrible poet.
It wasn’t that I was untalented, it was I thought (like most young poets) that my words were like magic fucking mana from the heavens. From god’s mouth to my ears to the page, perfect in every way. I thought I was the fucking man and disregarded anyone who said otherwise.
But here was a poet I appreciated saying that I needed to completely rework my poems. I couldn’t pass that off so easily. So, I humbled myself, admitted that I wasn’t naturally perfect, and opened my mind to getting better. Admitting that you don’t know everything is always the first step toward growth and learning.
She pointed out the errors I was making, the parts that needed to be redone, reworded to get the right effects. She pointed out the overused phrases, the cliches, the poor syntax. She made me realize a good poem straight out of my head still needed to be extensively edited, worked, and shaped. As much or more so than all the other forms of writing. Writing a good poem is just the start, every word is so much more important when there are so few of them to work with.
Excellent work shops, excellent criticism, excellent teacher. I learned a lot in that class.
Over the intervening years poetry has slipped down the list of priorities. I’ve only posted one poem here and it was pretty tongue-in-cheek, Ode to the coffee shop girl. That poem is barely passable, good enough to not embarrass me too much but well short of anything amazing.
Even though I don’t write much poetry anymore those college lessons are always in the back of my head. So when I see terrible poems in the feeds it makes me cringe. I see all these poets in the same place I was all those years ago, flawed and yet so self assured. Mana from the heavens. The networks on here are full of them, all telling each other how amazing they are. Where is the constructive criticism, the critical analysis? How are any of them to improve without honest feedback?
So, I’m putting out a call to any poets that read this blog: Submit a piece and I’ll work through it, provide feedback here. I’ll be gentle, I’m not looking to embarrass anyone, but I’d like to do it publicly so other readers can see the suggestions and maybe find something they can apply to their own work. I might not be a fantastic, published poet but I just might have some things to show you.
Good writing is all about honest back and forth communication, it’s a process. Just like with this blog, if I put up something that’s poorly thought out, doesn’t make sense, or could use some tweaking, I would hope that you would send me constructive feedback. Otherwise, how am I going to learn and grow?
So, let’s get the process started. Poems can be submitted through the Contact Me page or in the comments below.
Who’s willing to put up a piece?
**A big thanks to those who have already submitted. Everyone else, feel free to keep them coming. I’ll be doing the feedback in follow up posts, however many needed to go over them all.**