Saturday, June 11, 2016

Expectation and Longing

Image © Lori Gravley 2016
I once had an amazing critique group.  We met once every two weeks. Three of us taught at UT El Paso, the other poet took classes at the graduate school.  Connie, Leslie, Jacquie and I shared a common vision for excellence.  Each of us had a regular writing practice.  Each of us respected each other’s work and valued the input we got from each other.

We met for nearly three years, beginning twenty-six years ago.  We stopped meeting when two of us had babies and I moved away.  I’ve been looking for a writing group like that one ever since.  And though I’ve met other writers whose work and feedback I love, I’ve never had another critique group like that one.   

We met twice a month at a restaurant or at Jacquie’s lovely home.  We ate.  Then we got to work.  We read each other poems, listened to each other’s poems and then offered suggestions for ways to look at the work again on many levels—meaning, imagination, language, form, line, stanza, word, punctuation.   We were all thoughtful, critical, careful, and generous readers of poetry.  Working together made all of our work stronger.

I don’t know if it’s my expectations that keep me away from finding a new group or if its that I’m not at a University anymore so that the people I meet either aren’t committed to craft and the same process as I am or aren’t sure that my work and work ethic would mesh with theirs.

Either way,  I’ve been actively seeking a critique group for seven years.  I thought I had found one last year after a local writer’s workshop, but that fizzled.  I thought about trying to put another one together this year, but I don’t think I will.  It takes energy and time.  I’d rather put that into my work.

And, I think I’ll also release my expectation of a perfectly simpatico group.  I’ll attend the monthly critique group in my area.  Maybe I’ll reach out to other poets who live far away to see if they are open to a weekly or bi-weekly critique via email. 

I know I can’t step in the same river twice, but I still long for that perfect critique/support group that I once had.  Maybe, if I can let go of the ideal critique group that I’ve been carrying around for twenty-five years, I’ll find one that’s just right for me now in this moment.   I’m open.  I’m waiting.  I’ll try.

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