Tuesday, September 1, 2009

1st workshop--coming up!

by Whitney Gray

Last week, I visited all of my classes and got a feel for what I'll be learning. Thursday was the workshop, and we didn't do anything other than introductions and discussing the syllabus and a poem or two. We turned in our poems on Monday and by the afternoon, we had packets prepared and placed in the mailboxes. (I have a mailbox! Exciting!) I picked mine up after a long day of work in the English department, and looked them over as I walked home.

After I made it home, I sat down and re-read the poems, paying closer attention to the writing and styles. As one of my classmates joked, "we all wrote the same poems." It was interesting how many insects (or other creatures like mangy cats) and dead folks popped up in all of our poems. The best surprise of all? All of the writing was good.

I'm sure we've all been in workshops where there were a few folks who meant well but didn't get it. I don't say this to sound superior or snotty, but I do feel like I can point some fingers at my fellow classmates who joined the classes for an "easy" grade. These are the folks who didn't turn in poems, or would turn in 4-lines about the stalker "who watches the woman at her house/he waits for her quietly like a mouse."

Suddenly the caliber of the work has sky-rocketed and there's an obvious sense of commitment. Each poem is thoughtful, well-written, but with plenty of room for improvement and discussion. The styles were varied, as were the lengths of each piece. I'm looking forward to discussing these poems and really digging into them. I can't wait to read a poem and get a response other than, "I liked it." (I had a class of people who would say "I agree with [name here]" but they would never offer their own comments.)

Has anyone else been to workshop yet? Has anyone else had bad experiences with their workshops (or the people involved)? Or was I the only one fortunate enough to read rhyming poetry about sorority rush?


  1. I'm excited for you! My first workshop is tomorrow, but I haven't seen everyone's work yet. I am actually really intimidated; the two poets whose writing I saw over the summer are both very good, and I haven't workshopped in a looooong time.

    There were a couple of people in the CW major when I was an undergrad who were bit like you mentioned, but nope, never got to read a rhyming poem about rush ;)

  2. I've had workshop but we didn't end up workshopping but I have gotten a chance to read the week of other people in my program and it is really good and unique.

    In undergrad, it was weird, there would actually only be like 2-3 people in the workshop who weren't serious, so I was lucky that way.

  3. yeah i think i was lucky as an undergrad as well, maybe because the majority of people who took our CW workshops were undergrads, especially our intermediate courses because they were 3 hours long.

    i had been away from workshops for 10 years when i did my first one as an mfa student and it was intense!

  4. Yeah, that drove me crazy, but I guess it's the nature of the beast. Colleges require us to learn many things outside of our preferred area of study, and so you're bound to get a lot of people who could care less in each class. At least until they're classes that only someone who is devoted or otherwise loves the subject would take.


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