I was one of a group of people who gathered at the local Library to read poetry we had written. Some people wanted to improve their work, others only wanted praise. The quality of the work of the individuals from the different perspectives was vastly different corresponding to the attitude towards the poetry each had written. Because of the resentment of those who wanted only praise, the group did not continue for very long. Their antagonism towards any thought of improvement spoiled the meetings for the rest of us and they were no help for those of us who wanted to improve our work. Looking back now, I think the guidelines for the group were too vague to be much help, and may have even contributed to the problem and, hence, the group’s demise.
I no longer remember the details, but those of us who wanted to improve our work decided to gather at a prominent city park, on a different day and time, to share our work outdoors. We would have Poetry in the Park.
I can’t even remember the time of year, but the grass was green, leaves were on the trees and the temperature was pleasant on that late afternoon. Some years such conditions are rare. I can remember only one other person who was there because she and I later ended up in a new writing critique group, meeting in a private home with membership limited to only those who are serious about improving their work. This group has been meeting for thirty-five years now and, though the membership has changed, the procedure we follow has not. As a result, various members have written and published over two dozen books of both poetry and prose. Only two had published anything prior to joining the group.
That day, as we sat in the shade of the trees, there was a slight but welcome breeze, and we reveled in each other’s words and rhythms, and the occasional rhyme. I can’t remember how many poems we each read, or if we read for a specific length of time. Nor do I have any memory of what I read, though I’m sure I did. No one was dominate over the others. The gathering was small, somewhat over a dozen, but the quality of our work was delightful, as was the company of each other. I don’t remember that there was any kind of food; the poetry was the point. The event was memorable for us all.
If the only result of the Library sponsored group was the reading in the park, it was productive if only because of the memories of Poetry in the Park. Though that was decades ago, I have delightful memories and would like to do it again.