I sort of belong to a poetry workshop that meets each Wednesday evening at the home of one of the poets. They call themselves the Parkside Poets which I assume is because we meet at an apartment that is on Central Park West. The poets come from all over New York City and Long Island. I say I sort of belong because most Wednesday evenings of the year, I am working. However, when I can go, I feel very welcome there. There are a lot more members of the group than are ever there on any given night. So it isn’t like they have a problem with my part time attendance. It is free except for carfare and whatever snack anyone might feel inspired to bring.
I have two weeks off from my evening job for Passover and Easter break and was looking forward to going to the workshop very much. I had even written a first draft along with my students a few weeks ago when we were writing about a special woman in our life in honor of women’s history month. I hadn’t gotten copies of the draft for the workshop but figured I’d get that done on the day I go. Then I was informed that I had to attend a paid meeting at the headquarters of my evening job on that very evening. I need the money badly. I asked the poet if I can arrive an hour and a half late. He agreed.
My day became consumed with finishing paperwork to hand in at the meeting. It took much longer than I had estimated. Though I was a little early to the meeting, I was still scrambling to finish the paperwork. So I never made copies of the poem draft. I figured when I get out of the meeting, maybe I’d try to make copies there. However, my ex-husband works at the headquarters, and that is not a neutral experience, no matter how it may look on the outside. I weighed it out and decided I’d try to hand write copies on the train ride. On the train, I didn’t get a seat. When I got out at 96 Street, I considered going to a store, but it was later than I expected and I thought I’d miss the whole workshop. I went to the workshop with only my handwritten copy.
When I arrived, they were commenting on another’s poem about a photo exhibit by the White House photographer. Then we went around with another’s poem about an MRI experience. Another poet gave me a copy of her poem though I had missed the opportunity to discuss it. Another, who was leaving with a bad headache, stayed to hear me read mine. They were so understanding as I read mine aloud. Then I passed it around, and they commented. The main gist of the feedback was to linger with the feeling and write a longer poem with less telling and more showing. They were right. I wasn’t doing it justice as a poem. But it was a painful poem, I’m not up for lingering on it right now, so I put it away.
When I left, I felt somewhat cheated out of the full experience. I should have made the copies on an earlier day, should’ve had my paperwork finished on an earlier day. As Samantha Jones on Sex and the City would say, “shoulda, woulda, coulda, blah blah blah.”
Sometimes, it’s not so easy to get your poem on.
(c) 2012 Mindy Matijasevic