Saturday, October 22, 2005

Bear with me today, folks. Woke up with the fuzzies, which means I'm bound to go off on tangents if I don't watch myself.

So where to start today? Ok, let's talk about PFFA - an on-line poetry workshop I've been attending since May 2001. I have to say, the "regulars" and the mods there are an eclectic bunch - lively, surprising, fun, wacky, sometimes a bit mean-spirited, intelligent, and painfully honest. There have been times when I laughed so hard at the computer screen at work that my coworkers have gawked at me, or worse come rushing over to peek (I hate that cause then I have to logoff before they catch me slacking) There have been times when I actually cried because the crits I got were so scathing. There have been times when I got completely pissed about something or other, though now I can't remember the particulars. But always, always, I have learned about poetry.

I still remember my first post at PFFA. It was a poem that had a bumble bee as its central metaphor. The bee went from flower to flower having a good time pollinating them. Well, er, you get the gist of it then. Gawd, it was beyond bad. Really. And I remember several critters taking some mean potshots and generally tearing the thing to pieces like a pack of wild dogs clamoring for a piece of raw rump roast . But there was this one guy who stood up for me, calling the poem an ars poetica (at the time I remember wondering what the hell ars poetica was) and saying it would make a good children's poem, and the poor guy, he took such a solid thumping for that. Ouch. They all descended on him like flies on road kill...well, to make it short, he stopped posting at the site a little while after that but I stayed and tried to cover myself with the tatters of dignity that still remained. (I'd like to say thanks again to him for taking the heat off of me at the time.)

Yeah, it's a tough site. I love it. Thanks to several mods (who will remain anonymous for political reasons *wink*) and their unselfish tutelage from time to time, and to all the critters who have come and gone or stayed around for years (like me), my writing has progressed by light years. Oh, that doesn't mean "I'm there" - quite the opposite, I still have a long ways to go - but I feel now that maybe I'm at least halfway there when it comes to the craft of writing poetry. I feel a debt to these people. I can always count on them to keep me pirouetting on my poetical toes. I highly recommend the site to anyone who is serious about improving their writing and understanding of the craft of poetry.

A word of caution, though. Do not go there expecting a vanity site. If you have the courage to post your work there, be prepared for a good smacking and an even better learning experience. And be prepared to take that smacking with a smile. No egos allowed. I, myself, love and dread each smacking I get. You cannot take the crits personally. You must keep in line with the rules. No comments on comments in a crit, three crits for every poem you workshop. Lurk awhile before you post a poem for crit and do read the laws of the land (the guidelines) and study the Blurbs of Wisdom for at least a few weeks before you post anything in the critical forums. Start in General C&C before you move up to the advanced forums. Be respectful. If you can't do that, the site is not for you. We do not take kindly to trolls. I cannot stress these things strongly enough. Your goal is to fit in. Do not go there expecting them to fit into your agenda. It doesn't work that way.

So then, ok, enough of that. My brain is now suitably emptied and I am at peace. See you later.


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