A Critique of Culture: Navigating the World of Workshops

The perils of the poetry writing workshop

Bethany W Pope

In the past, I have been careful about writing about the current poetic trend of workshop culture. Running workshops is a primary (and much-needed) source of income for a great many professional poets. Sometimes it can become a means of gaining personal prestige. There is certainly a market for workshops. A great many people want to learn how to write poetry, and that is a good and noble goal, but there is a difference between learning how to write poetry and attending a workshop.

A student learns how to write poetry by applying themselves to the study of poetry, by reading vastly, deeply and well. A good student reads considerably more than they write, and they read the classics as often as the works of their contemporaries. A student of poetry (of any age – we aim, as poets, to be master and student at once, and all our lives)…

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