Yesterday I said goodbye to a poetry group that I’ve been a member of for the best part of ten years. And I do mean the best part – these guys have taught me so much, seen me through so many writing phases and stumbles and growth spurts and dry spells … they were my family. My writing family. The first people I showed new work to. The opinions I trusted. But …
And there always is a but, isn’t there?
For the last few years we’ve drifted apart. Maybe just “drifted”. It’s been increasingly rare that all six of us would ever be there at any one meeting. There are always good reasons for those who couldn’t make it, but the fact remains that the group stopped being the priority. Which is healthy for the individuals, but pretty unhealthy for the group. It went from being the thing I looked forward to most, to being the thing I wanted to avoid doing whenever possible. Sad, isn’t it?
We used to be the best workshopping group around. Vigorous, thorough, intelligent criticism of each others’ work. We knew each others’ foibles, each others’ stock-phrases. And knew each other well enough so that we didn’t have to waste time with the whole “well this is just my opinion” and “don’t take this the wrong way” preamble. So we could focus on the poems. But in the last two years there have been two or three occasions where someone has walked out, and several more where that was only just avoided. Doesn’t sound so bad? It was. In the previous eight years it had never happened even once before.
So I have officially tendered my resignation from the group. It’s been likely for the last six months, but yesterday it just became pointless to pretend any more. It’s done.
There will be another group. Maybe even with the same people. Just … not until poetry becomes the priority again, for all of us.
But dammit, I already miss them.
(* Ok, so my French is poor and comes from BabelFish.)