Last Sunday night, I attended a poetry workshop by the current Broome County (NY) Poet Laureate, Andrei Guruianu at Buffalo St. Books. He did a reading from a few of his collections, including his latest, and nothing was sacred anymore, and then guided willing attendees through an exercise.
Guruianu did a brief lecture on poetic elements, which was very useful. Up until now, I had no criteria for judging any piece of poetry other than, “I know what I like.” And Guruianu’s words about the elements of what he considers to be good poetry gave me at least one way to evaluate the poetry I read from now on. To him, the best poetry uses words to depict an environment or invoke images that are concrete, significant, meaningful, and which resist the mind’s tendency to go off on tangents and lean toward abstractions.
Afterward, I went back through the five or six books that I laughingly call my “poetry library” and I’ll be damned if I didn’t go back to the ones listed as my favorites and found just that. Not one poem about “war” or “time” or “space” or “that girl who broke my heart.” Poems on those sorts of topics, yes. But not about the abstract concepts.
And of course, I went back through what I laughingly call the “poems” I’ve written thus far. Now, I knew most of them sucked, but now I know at least one reason why! And the few (well, one… okay two or three) that “worked,” did so because they generally had more concrete elements.
So, to answer the questions that are undoubtedly on your mind…
- Yes–I’d like to write more poetry. Maybe see if I can salvage the stuff I’ve written so far. Maybe write something like the work I heard at the poetry panel I attended at Astronomicon 11.
- No–I’m not posting any of it here. Maybe at Fictionaut, but even then probably not for public consumption. Because I care for you all, far too much. Maybe once I’ve learned a few more things.