Saturday, February 25, 2012

facing demons

to the city then. it's part of the taking back my life regimen i have begun in earnest. today is windy and the trees are alive.

a student of mine asked me to journal, so i am, this may be ill advised, but here goes.

i'm going into the city today, to meet with a group of ten other poets for a poetry thesis critique group. my poetry thesis (or manuscript) is up for critique today. the last time i was at this group was during the fall semester. the critique was ruthless. i sat there while the group proceeded to tear into my work with things that i felt weren't necessarily on point. i likened the experience to me going for a moonlight swim and the group leader chumming the waters. i sat there, stoic, or trying to be, for about 45 minutes, then i began to cry. not bawl, just tears streaming down my face. i left as quickly as i could and haven't been back.

when i got home that day, i cried, and hoped i had never made a student feel this way. that their work, their words, were unappreciated. it hurt a lot. but i also looked long and hard at my manuscript, at the comments everyone made, and i revised the entire thing. today will be interesting because i don't know if they will value what i have done, or not. but it's not really up to them to decide what i do with my work. i am the poet. this is my manuscript. there is a fine line in the creative arts between creating by committee (taking everything everyone has to say and incorporating it--thereby watering down your work) or being so staunchly rigid about artistic integrity that you cannot hear the constructive bits of criticism.

ultimately i believe that there is some truth in everything that is said, no matter how hurtful. the key is, determining what is true and what is garbage. throw the garbage out and grow from the truthful bits. so as i revised my manuscript, i stayed true to my artistic vision. i held my line so to speak.

i'm getting ready now, and will be seated in that room, listening to the other poets speaking about my work. my aim is to remain open and vulnerable. to accept their words as their perspective on my work, not necessarily their judgment or mandate. i am still in control of my poetry manuscript. it is still my baby and i stand by it.

now, to face my peers.


Rakeem said...

>_> oh this is the same from the blog on the portal, i didn't recognise until i read the first paragraph but i read it anyway. If i were the critique i highly doubt any of the art you write would be unsatisfying, that's why i would never do as a critique or to be judgemental.

siouxsiepoet said...

you know rakeem, i had a lot of work to do on that manuscript, and i had to face it. i think the demons were in me, not my peers. i am done with my ms now, and it was worth it, all the time and effort and struggle. i don't seem to do a thing without struggling through. at some point you will have amassed a body of work and need the critical eye of a group. it's part of being an artist. you'll see. soon enough.