This is a Journal entry by a girl called Ben

Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 1

a girl called Ben

I have just got in touch with our local Poetry Society, because the next stage for me is sharing my work with other poets, and receiving really hard technical crits.

I thought it would be "oh, yes, come along every last Tuesday, and we'll be happy to see you".

Ha bloody ha.

They are mainly published poets, (which puts me in my place), and they do hard crits (which I can take, and give, to be honest).

She asked me what modern poets I like, and I coughed and spluttered. Reading poetry terrifies me - I am always afraid I am not going to 'get' it, particularly the poetry which tends to win competitions, which to be honest, I don't get.

She got quite annoyed that I wasn't already going to readings, and so on. I said that I had been living abroad for a while, and was starting to put out feelers locally, and that I had subscribed to MsLexia, which went down well. (It was the only thing that did, though).

It ended up with them putting me on the waiting list for the group, and her asking me to send her some poems.

I am now terrified. I have had to choose four poems which will be used to judge me *as a poet*. I welcome criticisms of my poems as poems, but this is much closer to home.

I'll let you know how I get on. Finding a peer group which pushes you is 90% of success in any endeavour, and I am hoping that these guys will do just that.


Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 2

Gone again

Whoa! smiley - huh Good luck, Ben! smiley - ok I must admit I'd turn around and walk away, in your position. They sound heavily up themselves, these 'poets'! smiley - winkeye


"Who cares, wins"

Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 3

Ferrettbadger. The Renegade Master

Sounds like a pretty scary proposition.... Good luck!

Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 4


smiley - wow Ben!

I hope it will be useful process for you and give you greater confidence as a Poet.

Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 5

Felonious Monk - h2g2s very own Bogeyman

I have to say I agree with Pattern-Chaser. They sound like a rather cliquey, self-regarding and pretentiously earnest bunch. This business of having to submit four poems to see whether you are serious enough for them stinks, IMHO. Sounds like they're trying to establish an offshoot of Bloomsbury Square in the sticks.

I suspect that there are basically two kinds of experience you might have. You either get their approbation, which would mean that the reason they appreciate you is because they think you hold them in awe. Or their disdain, which means you probably didn't want to know them anyway. Believing that they're 'Poets' is probably all these people have in the way of validation.

Wite poetry because it makes *you* happy. If other like it, then it's an added bonus.

Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 6

Mrs Zen

Well, either they write the sort of poetry I write, in which case I want to hang out with them. Or they write the other sort. In which case I will run a mile. (The other sort is that very allusive, opaque stuff, which you can't actually understand).

It wasn't so much "send it in and we'll see whether we want you to join our sacred circle", as "our meetings are too full as it is, but you are a persistant bint, and since since you won't get off the phone and you say you are keen, let's see what you write".

I don't care what attitudes they strike up. If my poetry improves then it is worth it, simple as that. And as Pinniped so kindly pointed out, in terms of them being up themselves I am in a cloacal league of my own. (Thanks, Pin!)

The only thing I am nervous about is being told I am a crap poet. They can tell me the poems are crap, and that is fine.

Odd, isn't it?


Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 7

Felonious Monk - h2g2s very own Bogeyman

Well, I *know* that I'm a crap poet, so I suppose I don't need to join a circle to find that out. Still, I've read your stuff and I think that you're far from crap. If Pound and Eliot are at one end of the scale of allusiveness then you'll find me at the other end, reading Cope and Larkin. It takes a special kind of poet to say things directly and without losing any lyrical beauty.

Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 8

Gone again

I'm an admirer of W. B. Yeats - master of the poetic metaphor - where does he sit on this allusiveness scale?


"Who cares, wins"

Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 9

Mrs Zen

Larkin! Why the f**k didn't I think of Larkin? I could have said 'Cope and Larkin', and not sounded like a complete and utter fool. smiley - footinmouth


Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 10

Mrs Zen

Oh, and I haven't read enough Yeats to know. smiley - sorry


Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 11


There's them wot reads and them wot rits me dear. You rit special poetry. I know that 'cos I read it!
'Splendid turn of phrase you useless mutt.'
take care poet

Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 12


I'm sorry, I cant stop giggling at the idea of a poetry circle having so many members that they have a waiting list to joinsmiley - laugh

Keep on doin' what your doin' Bensmiley - cheerup

Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 13


Good luck Ben, I guess we all have ideas about how we want to do things. I can't blame their defensiveness, as far as I can see it poetry is like playing the violin, it should not be inflicted on other until you get to a certain standard, (which you hvae) and if you are a group of published poets you aren't going to want wanabees coming along wanting to join in.

Either that or they're a bunch of pretenious smiley - bleeps but then being the offsrping of artists I can say that all smiley - artist seem to fit into that school.

(I was saying to A the other day that the difference bettween his Dad's DIY and mine is that My dad does the same stuff calls it art and expects you to deconstruct it. His Dad just makes a few chairs inthe shed).

Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 14

Mrs Zen

>> My dad does the same stuff calls it art and expects you to deconstruct it. His Dad just makes a few chairs in the shed

smiley - rofl

And I agree about their right to be protective of their group. Basically she is setting wannabe tests, and I respect that.


Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 15

Patron Saint of Kittens... aka Pantherlady THE Werepanther of h2g2 and Queen of BBNs

eeek... heavy. good luck!

Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 16

Blues Shark - For people who like this sort of thing, then this is just the sort of thing they'll like

Well the very best of luck, though I'd not be taking anything they say too seriously on account off their attitude...

smiley - shark

Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 17

Mikey the Humming Mouse - A3938628 Learn More About the Edited Guide!

Well, I don't write poetry, but science fiction. Despite the differences in genre, that's actually pretty similar to the process that would be involved into getting into any worthwhile critting group for SF.

Without any kind of restrictions, or entrance criteria, a group tends to descend into utter worthlessness relatively quickly. You get a lot of people wanting to join who:

1) Truly aren't interested in improving their work, but rather in hearing other people tell them how brilliant it is.

2) Have put absolutely no effort into learning the fundamentals -- and a crit group is simply not the place for that. When you have people who are unclear on what point of view is, or haven't yet heard the old adage "show, don't tell", they are simply at too different a place in their writing career than the members of the average crit group in order for it to be a fruitful joining.

3) Never read published work in the genre at all -- the main problem with this is that you most often end up with people who think what they've accomplished is startling and new, when in reality it's old and cliche. Alternatively, you also have people who *think* they are writing science fiction, when actually they're writing in a completely different genre, but simply aren't familiar enough with literature to realize this.

4) Have totally different goals than the members of the group. This isn't always a problem, but if you have a group full of people who are aimed at writing professionally (i.e., selling for legitimate rates), then someone who is writing for fun, or because they enjoy sharing it with friends on their website, is often not going to be a good fit.

A crit group doesn't set criteria, or ask for samples, in order to be elitish or cliqueish. (Well, I've met a few groups that truly wanted to be rude, but they were the exception). Rather, they're trying to make sure that the person who's joining is a good fit -- just like you would want someone to be a good fit who was joining your rugby team -- it wouldn't just be about how technically good of a player they were, but also things like how often they were up for practicing, and whether they were too much more (or less) competitive than the rest of the team, whether they'd be wanting to go to the pub with the team afterwards, etc. You're not trying to be rude, or elitish, in shutting some people out, but you know that it will be a huge pain in the smiley - bleep if you take on someone who has a vastly different attitude about winning than the rest of the team.

So Ben, I wouldn't view this as them judging "how good of a poet" you are. Rather, I'd look at it as them trying to ascertain what your goals are with your poetry, where you are in your life/career as a poet, and whether having you in the group will be a benefit to both you and the others in the group.

If, by chance, they said "sorry, but no" -- I woudln't take that as meaning that your poetry isn't good enough. Really, it's more that it simply isn't a good fit with that group -- it could be that the difference in style is just too great (it's not uncommon for a crit group to focus in on a certain sub-niche - obviously, there are both pros and cons in that). Or a gazillion other reasons, most of which have absolutely nothing to do with your potential as a poet.

Just my smiley - 2cents

Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 18

Mrs Zen

Mikey, long time no type. It is good to see you again.

I was very comfortable with the fact that they asked to see my stuff. As I said, I want to be stretched, and I want hard crit.

Your point about differences in style is a good one. As I have already indicated, I am very aware that there are different kinds of poetry being written and published right now, and that I write the "wrong" kind, silly little low-brow that I am. (Hell, I probably prefer actual paintings to unmade beds).

Most of the time I assume that I know what I think about things: I was just startled to find that I am unnerved at being judged as a poet on three or four poems. I feel a lot less nervous when I send stuff off to competitions or to magazines.

No gripes, no bitching, I am happy to send her the poems, I just fell over my own feet, and was surprised by it.

Anyway, nothing is going to happen for months, and now I must go and find an envelope.

Thanks for your thoughts, folks. I'll let you know how I get on.


Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 19

Bassman - Funny how people never ceases to amaze me!

Hi Ben,

Go for it girl - you know you've got the tallent, if they're too far where the sun don't shine, is that any fault of yours. I'm sure you'll find another group who are a a little bit more human smiley - biggrin

Bassman smiley - cool

Becoming a Poet (Capital Pee)

Post 20



Just drifting through and hope you don't mind a suggestion or two...

Myslexia always do comps with themes, last one was on 'God', ended end Dec 03, so look out for their next one, also if you would like some critique, a fairly decent place is the link below - read their guidelines beforehand though. One place I would steer clear off is '' their critiques can be fine however there are an intrinsic group of moderators who abuse anyone, and not just their poetry, which defeats the purpose of critique in the first place.

no fees and has established and beginners alike. They also have ideas on who would be the best publisher for your work in the Everything Else pages.

Hope the above link proves useful to you and wish you well.

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