Free Poetry Workshop
Wednesdays at 7 pm
Riverside, California

 

The Workshop is currently alternating between in-person and virtual meetings.

Contact workshop director for information and schedule.

 

About the I.E. Poets

 

The Inland Empire Poets is a community poetry workshop group. We are not affiliated with a college or university, or other organizations. There are no membership fees or requirements.

 

If you are a poet serious about improving your craft, then the group can provide you with critical readers who love poetry, understand what it takes to write and submit work to criticism because they are writers themselves, but who are also rigorous and precise in their criticisms and suggestions.

 

Our group meets every Wednesday beginning at 7 pm and usually meets until 9 pm.

 

We welcome all types and levels of poets: beginners and experienced; formalist, free verse, experimental and performance.

Where do the I.E. Poets meet?

 

Currently, the group is alternating each week between in-person workshop and virtual workshop. For information about current schedule, contact the director. Due to weather and other conditions, the group will meet virtually-only from December through March.

Virtual Workshop: The group workshops via Zoom. For link to meeting, contact workshop director.

 

In-Person Workshop: Currently, the group meets in the outdoor seating area outside the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in downtown Riverside: 3712 Mission Inn Avenue (between Main and Market Streets).The group meets outdoors, at the far end of the sheltered seating area from the coffee shop.

(last updated on 9/26/21)

If you wish to have the current virtual/in-person schedule, confirm current in-person meeting location of I.E. Poets workshop, or have questions, email Workshop Director Joel Lamore: poemetria@gmail.com.

A Note from the I.E. Poets Founder

 

The Inland Empire Poets began meeting in February of 1995: 2020 thus marked our 25th year of workshops! Each Wednesday since then, the poets have met to improve their craft. There is discussion of technique and publication, there are announcements of successes and failures, there is a bit of goofing around, but most of all there is workshop. Each poet submits their work to the scrutiny of other poets. It is a difficult thing to see one’s poem out alone in the world, but necessary if one is to improve. Each poet learns from other poets, people who love poetry and understand what it is to read it and write it, whether the poem achieves what the poet had hoped. The critiques can be intense and particular: sometimes minutes will be spent discussing a preposition, praising an image, or evaluating the title. The poet learns how to see a poem as a reader does, not only the ideal reader in the poet’s mind, but the real ones the poem is more likely to find.

 

The poetry workshop format has been attacked by some who charge it destroys originality and makes all the work coming out of the workshop the same. The variety of poets who have participated in our group and the diversity of poetry submitted for critique counter that charge. And the poems that emerge from the process are better, sharper, richer and more fully what they aim to do and be because they have benefitted, to varying degrees, from the workshop.

 

We are a loose confederation of poets. There are no membership dues, no constitution or bylaws, no officers. Some of the poets in the group have attended the workshop for a decade or two, but we have members who have only found us recently. What holds us together is a dedication to the craft of poetry. And we invite anyone who shares that dedication to join us.

 

Joel Lamore      poemetria@gmail.com

About the Workshop Format

 

In-Person Workshop Format Requirement: If you wish to workshop your poem during an in-person workshop, you must bring 12-14 copies of your poem to hand out. If your poem is short, you may put several on a single page and cut apart (2 or 4 poems per page). Please do not use print smaller than 11 points. If you have a long poem, if the columns are thin enough, you are encouraged to format the page, so your poem runs in two columns, saving paper and page turns (which can slow critique).

 

Virtual Workshop Format Requirement: Please be sure your poem is ready to Share in Zoom. This means that you have prepared it to fit on one page (if possible) without requiring you to scroll up and down for us to see the whole thing (both annoying and hampers critique). Again, columns, or setting poem up in landscape format (most screens are in landscape) are encouraged.

Though it may seem like the critique progresses in an open and unstructured way, it actually has three distinct phases:

 

The writer reads the poem. After reading, the writer should remain silent during the critique unless asked a direct question for clarification purposes. This policy avoids defensive behavior by the writer, which isn’t productive and chills good critique. The writer will get an opportunity to talk later. Remember, those providing critiques are not out to get you; they are simply providing their honest reactions, which is a very valuable thing, so don’t squelch it! Also, as author, you have the absolute right to heed or ignore the comments of your peers: it is your poem. The group is simply your window into how different readers will think and feel about your work.

 

Critique begins. Readers are encouraged not only to supply verbal comments, but written ones as well (in-person workshop -- those critiquing should write their name on the page so that the author knows who supplied what written comments if clarification is needed). As readers get experienced and more confident with the workshop atmosphere, comments will flow naturally. Often readers new to the workshop process don’t know where to begin or what kind of comment to make. Here are some suggestions:

 

  • Summarize/paraphrase: What does it mean to you? What happened? What’s the meaning? As simple as this sounds, this is very valuable to the writer, especially in critiquing poetry, since the author needs to know if his or her point is getting across. This is a low-pressure response for those who are unsure about their ability for more in-depth critique.

  • Evaluate: What did you like or dislike? What is distracting or confusing? And why? Be specific. This can be a comment about a word, phrase, image, metaphor, etc. Readers don’t have to evaluate the poem as a whole; they can focus on small parts if this feels more comfortable.

  • Mechanics: Often minor mechanical problems (grammar, spelling, punctuation) can be marked on typescript without bringing them up verbally. In virtual workshop, only point out serious errors.D

  • Don't aks writer. If, as a reader, you are confused about something in the poem, don’t ask the writer. See if one of the other readers has a solution. The writer needs to know if his or her work is understandable, and the only way to know that is if the writer doesn’t have to explain. Only very simple direct questions (like the correctness of the pronoun in a line) should be addressed to the writer. Finally, be honest, but supportive.

 

The writer can now speak, supplying brief clarifications, asking the peers to attend to something that wasn’t discussed, and possibly very briefly discussing intentions.

Open Reading, Time Permitting

 

The group spends most of its time on workshop, but if someone has brought a poem or two to read, but not have critiqued, we can sometimes make time for a brief reading period. We also do have a tradition of having a poet who has just had a poem accepted or published in a magazine or on a website read that to the group to celebrate. Let the group know you have poems to read at the beginning of the session, and the group director will try to leave time toward the end of the session for reading.