As you must have noticed, most of my blog posts mention (or center around) the Two Idiots Peddling Poetry reading series hosted at the Ugly Mug. This reading hatched me as a poet. I had attended and learned from other writing groups, but only after I became a regular at the Ugly Mug did I begin the real work of developing technique and discipline (though the latter remains tenuous at best).
As the ugliest duckling ever—all mucus-slimed and squawky—I imprinted on Ben and Steve and on several of the other regulars (the many James, for example). I had the opportunity to hear regionally and nationally celebrated poets feature. Sometimes their brilliance was an unintended disincentive, but I worked to develop an ear for lines and for syntax, an eye for metaphor, and a voice. I met poets at all stages in their careers and became part of a community.
Through that initial introduction, I joined other communities housed within the larger SoCal writing community. I joined the Poetry Lab and consider Long Beach another poetry home. I have learned so much from Danielle’s workshops and those of her guest authors...and have so much yet to learn. I love attending other readings and desperately wish I could go to all of them: so many fabulous readings in Long Beach (Cadence Collective, Definitive Soapbox, etc., etc.)—the Redondo Poets, Shout in Fullerton, the Rapp Saloon in Santa Monica, Beyond Baroque in Venice, really any reading/workshop led or promoted by Brendan Constantine, and so many more.
At a recent Poetry Lab workshop, that session’s visiting author, Eric Morago, asked who we wrote for. What audience did we have in mind when composing? Some the participants said wrote for a particular demographic; others wrote for themselves—that if they themselves liked it, they believed others would too. I answered that wrote specifically for the Ugly Mug (and honestly for the Poetry Lab too). These are my communities. What is your community? Who do write for? Who do you listen to?