Sunday, February 17, 2008


Today the Big Table Poets will meet to share and critique poems. We've been working together for nearly six years, and it amazingly still feels like a fresh new thing. Many people have asked how we have pulled this off, and the truth is, I don't really know.

But I am aware of an element in our group that I don't see in a lot of other groups: a decided lack of hierarchy and organization. No one is in charge. No one is the leader. We have a core group of five who show up most consistently, but we also have a revolving door of poets who come for a while then drop off. Everyone is just as important as everyone else, regardless of how skilled they are as writers. We operate on the tenet that everyone has something important to write about, something only he/she CAN write about. Therefore every piece of writing is valuable no matter how raw or polished.

However, you've got to have tough skin to sit at our table. We are there to work. So you've got to be open and ready to hear suggestions for improvement. And then ultimately you have to sit with yourself and own your writing.

Today I am workshopping two poems: The Final Prayer of Klara Hitler and In my mother's dream. I have a feeling it's going to be brutal. I'll let you know. :)

"Kill your darlings."

- has been attributed to William Faulkner, Mark Twain, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you know who really said it, I'd love to know!

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