Since joining the Manitoba Writers’ Guild (MWG) in July, I’ve become somewhat of a groupie. Last week, I attended a MWG seminar on starting a writer’s group and their In Dialogue reading with Michelle Elrick and Johanna Skibsrud. Between MWG, the monthly Speaking Crow poetry readings at Aqua Books, and a couple coffee dates with Sarah Klassen, I have taken part in one or two writer events every week. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the Manitoba poets I’ve been reading, including Dennis Cooley, Sally Ito, and Ariel Gordon, and be introduced to the work of many more.
I’ve come a long way from July 2010 when I posted here about my genre-confusion. I have committed to poetry. Since April 2011, I’ve started 160 poems. This week I printed out the ones that are on their way to becoming something and organized them by themes (the largest section those inspired by my grandparents) in a binder: 95 poems.
I’ve submitted to a couple literary magazines, and I’m proud to say I have my first rejection letter (all good writers have a wall-full). I’m also happy to announce that the other journal is still considering them (indicating their first read was 100 percent vomit-less). And I’m especially proud to say that since I submitted both, I’ve gotten a lot better!
This week I had tea with a few other poets (one I met through a friend and two who joined us at the MWG seminar) who may be interested in forming a writer’s group. I’ve been looking for a group for the past year for feedback on which lines work and which don’t, where my poem might be saying something different from what I intend, and when I’m unconsciously doing something right so I can keep doing it. (The times I’ve chatted with Sarah have been invaluable in showing me how much I’m leaving in my head instead of laying it out for the reader. In my fear of spoon-feeding, I tend toward opaqueness.)
I also applied for the Writers’ Guild’s mentorship program. If I’m selected (oh please, oh please!), and if there’s an appropriate mentor who applies, for five months I will have a published poet to guide me in sharpening my skills, perfecting my pieces, and hopefully, crafting a manuscript for publication.
I’m not naive or cocky. I realize it takes years to perfect my craft. But when I shake hands with other poets, I see the poet in myself as well.