Small Writers Group: Readings, Poetry, and When to Workshop

2 May

I went to my second meeting of my small writers groups, previously called A Small Group of Strangers Workshop. I’m changing my name of it because these people are starting to feel less like strangers. I really enjoyed this meeting of six and we covered three pieces.

Before we started, our moderator passed around some fliers for prose and poetry reads in downtown Detroit. It was the weekend of Easter (yes, it’s taking me a long time to write this) so I couldn’t attend, but it got me thinking. There are so many different types of readings. I’ve been to a Poetry Slam, a ‘Story Slam,’ and author signings, but I’m not sure I’ve ever been to something that could be strictly classified as a reading. But really, what makes something a reading and why is that better than just hearing the author speak?

You can have readings for poetry, prose, essay, anything really. And it can be combined with Q&A or just author speaking, or only the reading and they can be held just about anywhere (though I feel an independent coffee shop is the stereotype). What kinds of readings have you been to? What kind do you most enjoy?

Our moderator brought a poem for us to critique. Besides helping Nicole with a poem once, I’ve never critiqued poetry before and I wasn’t really sure how to do it. Simply because of that I’m thinking of taking a poem to the group to see what kind of feedback I can get. Our biggest critique was about a line break and how the poem flowed with stanza breaks. Besides that, I wasn’t able to contribute much other than my interpretation of what the poem meant. How do you critique poetry? What kind of feedback is helpful when you submit a poem to be workshopped?

One of the men in our group brought the first chapter of his novel.  As I’m still planning on re-writing my NaNo, this is something I’ve considered doing with this group as well and he asked a question that I didn’t have a good answer to. How much of a book should you write before bringing the first chapter to a workshop? When I started going through my first manuscript with the Novel Girls, I was about 2/3 of the way done with it. With the speed I’ll be re-writing my NaNo, I might bring it in sooner, or maybe wait a little longer, I haven’t decided yet. Is there a good point to bring it in and see if it’s interesting before you commit too much? Or is it best to get through the whole thing first so you don’t realize that something you already had workshopped needs to be critiqued? Does anyone know the right balance?

I hope you’re all enjoying my writerly musings. I love hearing from you.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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