Yesterday, I read some poems and gave a little workshop on the sestina at the Georgia Poetry Society. When I was asked to present, I asked if I could bring my wife Tammy along, so she was a featured reader along with poet Barry Marks, who earlier this year released his first full-length collection of poetry (Possible Crocodiles) by Brick Road Poetry Press. It was really a super fun day, and I'd like to thank Keith Badowski for inviting me and putting on such a great event with the help of several members of the GPS.
As editor of WritersMarket.com, I often stress in my e-newsletters (which you can get subscribe to for free at www.writersmarket.com) that it's important to get out to writing conferences, workshops and events. Even though I was a speaker, here are some benefits I received yesterday:
- I got to meet other poets. Several Poetic Asides readers, including some who post poems regularly to the prompts, were in attendance. And it was funny, because most of them made the same comment: That I didn't look like my picture, because I shaved off my long hair and beard. (Just ask anyone who's known me for more than a year: I'm always changing my appearance.) Anyway, there's nothing like meeting and talking with other poets; in general, I think we're really the nicest sort of people in the world.
- I learned about new publishing opportunities. Throughout the day, I met publishers of poetry presses; I met other published and very talented poets; and I found out about new poetry contests. Plus, there was a member who brought up the possibility of poets reading poems on the local NPR station (that would also be broadcast online). That's a serious benefit to attending a writing event.
- I heard some amazing poetry. The Georgia Poetry Society offered two open mic sessions throughout the day. Attendees had the opportunity to get up and read their poems. And there were some great poems--from the serious and heart warming type to the super funny.
- I watched my wife Tammy read. Tammy had a 20-minute set, in which she was able to read poems from her two chapbooks (including No Glass Allowed from Verve Bath Press), and she did a killer job. It was the first time I've seen her read in front of an audience, and I'll admit that I was holding back the tears a few times (because I was so proud of her and her poetry is just that powerful).
- I met and watched Barry Marks read. Marks is a fun poet. He mentioned some of his influences are Billy Collins, Bob Hicok, Kim Addonizio and Mary Oliver, and his poetry shows it. I found myself laughing out loud in parts, and Marks is a very nice person as well.
- I wrote some lines. Yes, I probably would've written some lines anyway, but these lines were different, because I was in a different environment. Different, for me, usually equals more interesting, and I'm interested to see where these lines lead me.
There were other things I got out of the day as well, but these were some of the biggies. It's just such a good thing for the poetic soul to get close to other poets and talk shop--or even search for commonalities or interesting asides.
Since I presented a workshop on the sestina, I told attendees that they could share their finished sestinas in the comments of this post. I hope they will. But if anyone in the Poetic Asides audience wants to jump in and share their own sestinas, I would appreciate that as well.
If you're unsure what the sestina is, you can check out this blog post on the form. Anyone is also welcome to send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if they'd like to receive my very cool Sestina Worksheet to help keep the end words straight. I really wish I had one of these back when I first started messing with the sestina.
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