Publisher, producer, teacher, editor, and writer, the WCYR was happy to welcome James Dewar to the January meeting. James took us on a journey through the poetry toolbox. Wanting this to be an interactive workshop, James had us spend the first three minutes writing down where we were with our writing, not just what we were doing, but how we felt about it. James wanted us to keep our pens/fingers moving. We then spent five minutes writing in prose.
These activities showed us that we approach writing differently depending on our objective. When we write prose, we assume that it will stay prose. But it doesn’t need to. You can take a beautiful prose piece and transform it, by crafting it into a poem.
Before the meeting, James sent attendees a selection of poems to read. Using different aspects of poetry, James took us through each poem. We broke them down, and studied them, to understand what James looks at when he edits and what he looks for in poetry. (They were a lovely group of poems that were thoroughly enjoyed.) James gave us excellent advice and direction on how to understand the craft of poetry. We examined word choice, form, and enjambment. A poet creates connection. It can be the ultimate “show don’t tell.” Use the senses. Sensuous details generate the emotion the reader will feel. However, poems can also be silly. Maybe joy or laughter is what the poet wanted you to experience.
James emphasized that a poem is clay; you can remold it however you want. The first draft of a poem, like a lot of writing, is just getting it down. The poetry toolbox comes out during revision. James provided valuable insight into what makes a poem and we thank him for joining us on a cold January afternoon.