Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Writing Group

I’ve been messing with this poem for months. Every time I open it I seem to make changes, so I thought it time to go public with this draft. If you couldn’t guess, it’s after Wallace Stevens’ poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. Written from experience? I couldn’t possibly say…

Maybe thirteen isn’t enough.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Writing Group

(after Wallace Stevens)

 

1.
A platform for demonstrating
Academic background
And hence, superior intellect.

2.
She wrings her hands and apologises
Profusely for sub-standard work
That no-one could ever possibly
Want to read.

3.
Repressed anger and
Suppressed inhibitions
Explode from the page;
Debris is scattered everywhere.

4.
Of course, I only speak well of everyone’s work;
That way I hope I’ll hear only
Good things
About my own.

5.
D-e-n-s-e
Diff-
-icult
CoMpLex;
Hidden depths of the poet’s mind
Remain
Well-hidden.

6.
He makes frequent, obscure
Literary references,
Subversively deriding
Those less well-read than himself.

7.
F**k!
C**t!
T**t!
Sideways glances of outrage and disgust,
Then silence;
No-one dare complain:
We’re all open-minded here…

8.
Arguments about punctuation
Punctuate the evening;
Get to the point.

9.
Nod and smile politely,
Accept feedback gracefully;
Say and change nothing.
Submit the same next time.

10.
The merest hint of criticism
Is defended furiously;
He passionately explains
The obvious points
Everyone has missed.

11.
Chat convivially and persistently
About anything
Other than writing.

12.
New members must be published to keep
Our high quality untainted.
Next item: dwindling membership…

13.
Group therapy that reaches
The parts counsellors
Have failed
To reach.

© 2013
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