Friday, October 20, 2006

Notes from "Interactive Poetry" with Rob McLennan

On October 20, 2006 poet and editor Rob McLennan held an intimate and interactive poetry workshop at the Hazeldean Branch of the Ottawa Public Library.

Participants engaged in writing exercises and were given one-on-one evaluations of their poetry. Rob emphasized the need for poets to
find their own language and to not rely on the all-too-familiar clichés. Similarly, Rob urged poets to employ the "less is more" concept by eliminating any unnecessary poet-speak disguised as language or emotion.

In an effort to show (not tell!) the impact of these insights, one participant, Helen Gamble (a member of the Ottawa branch of the Canadian Author
s' Association) agreed to provide us with the evolution of her poem, "Rock My World" (see below).

Upon returning home from the workshop, Helen reviewed the notes and suggestions made by Rob and the other workshop participants and set upon rewriting her poem to better convey its atmosphere. As Helen explained,
"the original version of the poem was one I struggled with for some time...I couldn'’t see that it was far too wordy and gave away too much."

The revised version of the poem - though it has been considerably pared down - proves far more evocative achieved by Helen's use of a short, staccato-like language that mirrors the disorder felt by the poem's subject.

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