April 2015 GWA Workshop: William Wright Shares ‘Good’ Poetry Concepts and Publishing Keys

I stared at the large manila envelope in my hands and read the message, hand-scrawled across its front, “Refused! We do NOT accept large envelopes!” This unwelcome epistle told not only me, but also everyone in the postal system and possibly all my nosy neighbors that my poems had been returned from a New York publisher – unopened.

That was in the 1980s when I was an English Literature graduate student in Florida. Now, after a long career in corporate writing, I am again writing poetry. And, thanks to the Georgia Writers Association workshop program, I am planning to publish. Yes, I’m gearing up to send my poems out – again – to New York and to many other places.

Fortunately, I just attended the GWA’s writer’s workshop on April 18 and walked away totally inspired by William Wright’s generous sharing and wise guidance. Wright, author of eight poetry collections, is a well-respected and widely-read poet and editor. He has earned his reputation, and his work and dedication show. I think our workshop group would also add “part-guru,” to the list. His stated goal for the workshop was as follows:

I hope to embolden and encourage poets during this workshop and to help them identify ways to improve their work and more carefully attune their voice so that they stand out from the crowd.

And, he did.

Beginning with our introductions, Wright connected to areas in which we had interest and needed to hear more. His following presentation aligned with our needs and told us he had heard our voices. And so, in providing both personal and practical knowledge about the world of functioning poets, he gave us more than we expected.

We learned, for example, certain frames of self-reference to ensure we hear and respond to our innermost direction in working with our own muse, and how to keep working through, even if our own muse decides to take a day off. He shared how he works within a trusted support group to ensure he hears how his work is heard by others – so important in that equation of the self, the one who writes; and the trusted listening partners, the ones who read and hear his work, and who provide their comments. Then, when the work feels complete, he shared how to find appropriate channels for its publication to larger audiences.

When approaching the world of publication, Wright provided a realistic world. He gave us keys to that world of publishing gates and permissions which eludes so many. He also noted that editors, like other humans, come in all shapes and forms – some are kind and some are not, and others are in-between. To function well within this world, first steps include introducing one’s work to the right audience, and to find that sub-set of publishers, one must research, read the publications, and develop an appropriate submission strategy.

I would loved to have experienced this workshop back in the ‘80s, and I could have saved a bundle on postage. Today, I am equally happy to have attended it in April 2015. But don’t just listen to me, hear what other workshop attendees had to say:

“William Wright’s workshop on poetry was excellent. Although I write fiction and not poetry, the event was very informative. I learned a great deal about the subject presented. Mr. Wright also gave invaluable information about editors, publishers and submissions that cross all genres. I am fortunate to have attended and would recommend all serious authors to do the same regardless of skill level or writing style.” – KT Ashley

“I’ve heard William Wright read before, but it was so helpful to hear his perspective on the publishing industry for poetry.” – Lynn Pederson

“It was a nice and efficient setup, friendly welcome and William Wright was a delight to listen to and learn. His encouragement and inspiration prompted me to write a poem the very next morning. I don’t normally write poetry.” – Eleanore Gratz

“I was very pleased with the workshop. Mr. Wright shared tips on both the craft of poetry and the business of getting published. He took the time to ask what each participant was hoping to learn from the workshop, and was kind in responding to novice questions. This was the first GWA event I’ve attended because I live two hours from KSU, I feel it was well worth the drive. Mr. Wright is a good workshop leader and a good professional contact for GWA members. Thanks for inviting him.” – Sharon O’Rear

“It was great and very informative.” – Ora Esters

Review: GWA Workshop, April 18, 2015 – William Wright
Review from Carol Roddenberry
New GWA Member
KSU MAPW Graduate Certificate Program / Freelance Writer & Artist
Former Corporate Communications Director and Consultant