This evening was the fourth meeting of the new Stanza group which I have been facilitating just outside Derby in the UK. A Stanza is a gathering of members of the Poetry Society who meet – usually monthly – to ‘do’ poetry, one way or another.
For our group, it is the opportunity for its members to bring along pieces they have written for some friendly, perceptive, creative advice.
This evening there were seven of us. We have been blessed with being able to establish sufficient trust quickly enough to allow our feedback to be direct and truly constructive. We are also lucky to be a collection of poets who have differing writing styles, all of us at an approximately ‘equal’ level of competence.
Each month, it seems, there is usually a ‘star turn’ or two.
This evening I return to my flat with a number of emotions uppermost:
- glad that I took the trouble to try and get a group started here (I so missed the one I used to belong to..!)
- grateful that we seem to have ‘bonded’ quickly and painlessly – and grateful for that trust
- challenged to continually look at the work I produce with a sense that the bar is getting higher
- inspired to try and find something of ‘a voice’
The latter two are the most demanding, of course. Poets are, in some respects, a little like archaeologists, attempting to unearth treasures – the only difference being that we are responsible for the treasures in the first place! Or perhaps – and more accurately – we are just like any other ‘artist’, striving for expression in the medium we have chosen.
It is after a Stanza meeting that I feel most like an amateur, as if all my years of writing represent little more than an extended apprenticeship. Or getting 7-out-of-10 from a teacher. “Must do better”.
But in a good way.
Perhaps that’s exactly how it should be…