How does your work first enter the world? Do you have a social group or writers group that you work ideas and poems with?
Since we met in 2016, Tanya Grae has been the person I show my poems to first and most frequently. Tanya has read more of my work than anyone else and she has read draft, after draft, after draft. I doubt I’ll ever have a reader more dedicated than Tanya. I also show early drafts to Dorsey Craft and Alexa Doran, and they have helped me immensely, too.
Tanya, Dorsey, Alexa, and I are all Ph.D. Candidates in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Florida State University. We entered the program at the same time and that’s how we met and became friends. When I was first admitted to FSU, I felt incredibly lucky (and grateful), and that feeling has only grown, because once I moved to Tallahassee and started taking classes, I saw firsthand how talented my classmates are and how much effort they put into their work.
And the poetry classes I have taken at FSU, and also at the University of Houston and Harvard, have taught me invaluable lessons—lessons I am thinking about even years later, lessons I try to apply every time I write. But, somehow, I’ve never felt entirely at ease brining my first drafts to a workshop, so I’m glad to have found a small group I feel comfortable showing my poems to when those poems are in their roughest state.
I also used to meet every Sunday morning with a group of classmates and friends, including Tanya, Lee Patterson, Marianne Chan, Josh Wild, and sometimes Dorsey. We’d eat pancakes and workshop poems. It was productive and sweet.