Hi there all...
Pardon me while I vent a bit. I've been here for a few days now and have found that this site has writers that are in many stages of learning poetry. Some remind me of when I first started writing, others have displayed knowledge and experience of the art. But ALL are treated equally here; with dignity and respect.
I came here from another "workshop" that reportedly offered a number of "levels" of learning. It had forums from beginners to very high critique.I thought I had found my place at the first level of critique, where , I thought, I would learn from my peers and offer a few contributions.Not all of my crits were good and that's good because I NEEDED to hear where I could make improvements in my poetry. That's what a workshop is for.There was also a place for "fluffy" comments like: "I liked it" and " I can relate", in another forum. Praise was never expected in the critiquing forums...encouragement was!
One day, I posted a poem which I had worked on for about a week. No, it wasn't the best thing I've ever put on paper, but it was an effort. An effort to work with form. The poem itself was perfect in meter, but was left more than lacking in meaning . I had sacrificed the wording for the sake of form. That's a big no-no in the world of poetry. I can see that now, comprehend it, and accept it.
The problem that I had was with the critique from a moderator who began his crit with "...and this, "KIDDIES", is a prime example of...blah, blah, blah...". I can't even recall what the rest of the crit was. The demeaning ridicule of his tone was almost enough for me to hang up my pen. So as not to display my rage, I put a reminder in the "venting" forum, that critiquers should try to remember the person behind the pen and that ridicule never teaches anything. This led to a "discussion?" on whether encouragement should be used as a teaching tool or if it had any use in a workshop at all. I was promptly told that I was merely allowed to be there on "sufferance". Can you imagine? Yes, OVER-encouragement doesn't help the writer to learn, but a little goes a long way in keeping the writer/learner motivated and enthusiastic about his/her writing. I'm at a stage where I don't need "fluff". I want to learn and perhaps along the way, offer what I have learned so far to others who are just beginning. I THINK that's what a workshop is about. I was told that encouragement makes the writer think that he/she is more important than the poem, but my opinion is that a little encouragement, in the skillful hands of someone who knows how to use it, is not only a gift, but a wonderful tool that helps to make the poem MORE IMPORTANT TO THE WRITER.
What I didn't understand at the time was that giving is a learned skill that also takes effort and practise and perhaps it was presumptuous of me to think that everyone should automatically possess this "skill". But I also think that when arrogance takes the place of encouragement, maybe THAT'S the time we should hang up our pens.
Poetry is the sculpting of words. We ALL start with a lump of clay.