Part IV. Poetry Groups

  1. Hiring A Local Professor
  2. Creating Your Own Workshops
  3. Poet Groupies?????
  4. Pop Poets…The Emperor’s New Clothes
  5. The Poetry Marathon

1. Hiring A Local Professor

Sadly, most college instructors do not get rich from teaching Creative Writing. Many augment their salaries by moonlighting in their favorite pastimes… teaching and poetry. Your group of poet friends can get private instruction for reasonable amounts of money and your local prof can make a few bucks in the process.

The formula is simple:

  1. Set a workshop schedule
  2. Determine if it is a one-shot deal or a 4-6-8-10 week program
  3. Set an hourly fee for the instructor
  4. Determine how much salary will be given per course
  5. Divide the full amount by the number of participants
  6. Make the deal

For example, ten poets want a 4 week workshop of two hours duration per week. The instructor receives $20 per hour or $160 total. Divide $160 by 10 = $16 per student. All you need to do is provide a place… large dining room will do, agree to the dates and times, and you are in business. You can raise or lower the fees according to the economics in your area. Everyone wins!

2. Creating Your Own Workshops

We believe that almost anyone can be a “teacher” — not necessarily a great one nor a dreadful one — just a teacher. You can teach yourself and you can teach others. In your local library, you will find books that illustrate form and style. You will find books and magazine articles that will show you techniques for getting people to write. If there are twenty of you or only you, you can design a poetry workshop that will stimulate thinking and writing. Draw up a list of poets in your area, send out an invitation to join you for cookies, iced tea, and sharing. That is how The Comstock Writers’ Group began over a decade ago.

 3. Poet Groupies?????

After attending several conferences and workshops (the biggies), one of our colleagues remarked that there are, indeed, “poetry groupies” who follow the “stars” from place to place, readings to workshops. Young would-be’s sit at the proverbial feet of their heroes and are in awe, enamored, and in luck, apparently. Because scholarships are found for them, doors are opened, and introductions are made.

4. Pop Poets… The Emperor’s New Clothes 

Do some of these outrageously prolific poets give you pause? When we see very slight poems proliferating in scores of magazines and watch a “name” being built by virtue of volume not depth, we hope that not only the poet, but also others tempted to get onto the merry-go-round of submissions think about the ramifications.

Perhaps it sounds ludicrous to knock success. However, pop poets will come and go… a legend in their own minds. We’d like to see these folks spend some time on their craft and not on their “career” so they can live in books that will be reprinted in perpetuity.

5. The Poetry Marathon

We have done this for our community and you might like to organize one for your community.

Poets love to be with poets. Poets love to share poetry.

Poets love to listen to poetry.

Poets love to read their poetry.

This is how to run a Poetry Marathon in your city:

  1. Select a site that is accessible, has good parking and can be found with minimal effort by out-of-towners.
  2. Print out the addresses of all the poets in a two-hour travel radius from the location selected.
  3. Write a letter inviting poets to read from their own work for a specific amount of time. (In our case, dozens of poets read for five minutes over a five hour period)
  4. Enclose a stamped reply envelope to see who plans to attend. Expect 70% of positive respondents to actually be there (poets, you know)
  5. Make some good eats, coffee and punch.
  6. Let your wonderful poets create a day for each other.
  7. Repeat yearly.

How much will this cost? Get a site donated (museum, library, school)… make your own goodies… ask each poet to contribute a few stamps for next year… do a cover charge only if you must.