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S. A. S. Female, 62, United States (8/9/2013 12:07:00 AM)

I never tried to write poetry until I was 18, and I don't think I wrote a first " keeper" poem until I was 21...and then they were few and far between. Even now, I don't think I have many more than a hundred " keeper" ; poems- the rest seem more like exercises, preparations.
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I have gone years at a time- mostly in my thirties- without writing what I consider one satisfactory poem.
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I was lucky in youth to have Ed Ochester read some of my " work." He never sugar coated, and although he did point out the details or lines that were good, I don't really remember that. What I remember were the suggestions, and I'm still conscious of them today. One time I took it upon myself to send poems to Anne Waldman when St. Mark's Poetry Project was in its youth, and she was kind enough to send me back my poems with very specific comments (and an invitation to come to St. Mark's- I should have gone, but was too cowardly) .
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My point is I think someone who really loves words also values (respectful) criticism. What I remember are the little pushes to improve- not the praise, though I know the praise felt good at the time. I think a real lover of words will always listen.
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Since recently returning to this site, I've received suggestions from MG, Angie, JC, WM, and RD- more than comments- little prods and pokes that give me something to think about. I post drafts or projects on here, not completed poems, so I really appreciate the suggestions. I often print off the poems with comments and take them to work to me- will set them somewhere that I can see them in the course of the day and have a moment to think about something I really care about.
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Anyway, I'm grateful for all the poets, past and present, who have helped me over the years. MG made suggesions on a poem to me most recently and the comments were specific enough that they were a learning experience- now that's a gift!
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(I like Wendy's idea of everyone posting a poem that they wrote when first writing- it would be interesting) .

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  • Alice Vedral Rivera (8/9/2013 9:32:00 AM) Post reply Stage

    Hi Sue Ann, the poem I posted was one of the very few 'keepers' from that time and I, also, went years before writing more poetry. I started writing more or less regularly in the mid to late 1990's. I always appreciate feedback as it helps me to continually hone my craft. I don't always take the suggestions because I may have a reason or a liking for how I originally wrote a piece, but I always keep it in the back of my mind when I write my next one.

  • Mary Morstan (8/9/2013 6:55:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply Stage

    Hi Sue Ann, thanks for this. I was wondering: did you have poems read to you as a child, or hear a lot of poetry during early years?I went to a playschool run by two women who read poems constantly and I learned them off not because I had to but because I wanted to. In primary school (age 6-12) , we had to learn poems and so it continued... My mother also read a lot at home. That love of words and their sounds never leaves, I think. Re criticism, I think it depends how it's given. I agree with you, though, that those who love words will value criticism. But I think it's hard when young people start out in a void, feel the same inspiration, sense of connection, as any artist, but are then told what they are doing doesn't work. It takes time for some to get around that.... I had the support of an older poet from my early 20s up. It was great - nothing interfering, just a series of questions usually...then I would wonder.

    I would get angry as a poetry editor - don't know how you did it. I lose faith in humanity sometimes after correcting essays and/or exams...

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    • S. A. S. (8/10/2013 12:23:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply Stage

      Wendy, My mother wrote in my baby book that I could recite something like three dozen nursery rhymes when I was two. She told me years later that she never liked reading stories to children- she enjo ... more

  • S. A. S. (8/9/2013 12:50:00 AM) Post reply Stage

    I read so much bad poetry for 10x3 that I sometimes wish I had some JC in me.
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    And if you don't like a poem, why not be honest about it- you're not expected to like everything another poet writes- even a poet you admire. But if you say you don't like it, I think you should point out why...or not comment at all.

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