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06 February 2007

Read more poetry

We_generousTwo years ago, I attended the North Carolina Writer's Network annual conference. I was amazed to find hundreds of writers there, all talking about writing.

It had never occurred to me that so many people write or that, in fact, people actually study how to write. Go figure. Just think of all the time I've wasted, not in a writing group or studying with a teacher.

It was a real moment of clarity - I decided that it might be a good thing to take a writing class or twelve, to get work in front of others for their comment, to explore whether a writing teacher could see the architecture of the pieces that I couldn't see, not yet.

At the last moment, and at the last session of that conference, I decided to attend a workshop on memoir. For some reason when I walked in, I felt that the teacher was someone who would be significant in my life--I didn't know how, and I knew it didn't really matter if we continued our connection past the end of the workshop, but for that moment, his influence would be significant. And it was. I'm still figuring out how. It doesn't have to do with proximity, as so many things do.

His name was (and still is) Sebastian Matthews. A poet and memoirist, he teaches classes in which we read and listen to other writers, explore the structure of our pieces, and workshop the works of others in the course. I'll begin my next class with him on February 14th.

It's important to support writers, don't you think? Sebastian has a new book of poetry out - a perfect Valentine's Day gift, perhaps? You can find out about it here.

And guess who has written praise for Sebastian's work? Yep. None other than my beautiful Billy: "Music and musicians run through most of these poems—Louis Armstrong to the Beach Boys and many in between—but Sebastian Matthews has his own poetic music, which is poised, tuneful and able to shift from major to minor so nice you hardly notice. We Generous is a terrific collection, an assembly of smart and evocative moments." —Billy Collins


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Great post and super book recommendation. But what I really "groove on" is the title - Read more poetry.

I'd have been tempted to add an exclamation mark - my "inner middle linebacker" would have demanded it. but now that I think about it, no exclamation is needed.

You can't shout people into poetry.

I suspect you attract others to poetry with a softly spoken, "read more poetry...." And then allow lingering curiosity to suggest that a poem and a poet just might be the "influence" of "significant" one needs.

Thanks for the post...and the title.

Keep creating,


You've mastered the art of writing; I love your style and provocative posts.

Keep on dazzling us with your wonderful works!

Patti, this site is just amazing in its layout, scope, vision and aesthetic. Thanks
for including me inside all this cool stuff.

interesting post.
needless to say, you write beautifully and evocatively, moving many with each post you write- as is evident from the comments :)
that said,
a little training never hurts. "training" is the wrong word actually.
sometimes when we work in areas like writing and art with other people its not that we don't know and we need to be taught, but that sometimes we're looking slightly off angle (slightly off the perfect word, the exact shade that we want to express) and this puts it back in place.
i hope you enjoyed all your workshops and learnt much and discovered much.
as for the remark on writers, beautifully said, that we should support other writers. just to say:
i went and looked for the collection and bought it. will be reading tonight.

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