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The poetry writer's workshop

Welcome, poets, to the Poetry-W Workshop. All forms of poetry are accepted here, from free verse to haibun to sonnets. While poetry submitted for critique is often free verse, we adventure to embrace new and traditional genres of poetry. Members challenge and encourage one another to explore the unfamiliar, yet aim to support and respect the individual's voice. A few of the dividends a poet can expect to receive from a workshop could include: to better understand the basic principals of the craft, learn to evaluate one's own poetry and that of others more objectively, and to discover one's personal style while appreciating the style of others. We strive to accomplish these things and more, without falling into the dreaded trap that some editors call "workshop" or cookie-cutter poetry.

Participation requirements:

All members are required to critique and/or submit a minimum of eight times per month (roughly twice a week). New members who do not meet the minimum requirements will be removed after one month of non-participation. Members removed for not participating will not be allowed to rejoin for six months.

We only accept a maximum of 60 poets in the workshop as we need to keep the list productive for all members. If we are at full capacity at any time, you may add your name to a waiting list.


Please sign all of your posts and use the correct subject headers as explained in The Poetry-W Guidelines that all members receive automatically upon joining. Some members sort their mail by using these headers and administrators use them to create reports.

Submit no more than one poem at a time. Wait at least a week (7 days) before you submit another. This gives the critics time to work on helping you improve the poem you've already submitted. Wait at least two weeks before submitting a rewrite. Critiques take time and you don't want to waste the time of a critic who is busy on the original when a rewrite comes in too soon.


While anticipating critiques on your work, critique the work submitted by other poets. It's best for all if you critique more than you submit (and you'll learn more about poetry as well). When doing a critique, be as honest as possible about your reaction but always remember to be tactful. There are no excuses for insults.

We depend on the integrity of our members. It is very important that you do not share poems with anyone else without their written permission. Don't open a submission if you don't intend to critique it. Delete these subs from your hard drive, or destroy any paper copies you may have printed out for convenience. Sharing anything from this workshop with outsiders is grounds for immediate removal.

If you send thank-yous for critiques, do so by private email. Do not argue critiques. Use what is helpful and discard what is not. If you do want to discuss a critique or explain your poem, do so by private email. It is never to be done on the poetry workshop list. When critiquing, give more than "I like it". Point out which lines appealed to you and try to say why. Point out which lines did not work and explain why. Give concrete examples and suggestions when you critique.

Note: Two or three line congratulatory notes are not critiques and should be sent by private e-mail, not to the entire list. Raves are great but the workshop wants to see the what and why of it and that's what makes it a critique. Non-critiques do not count toward your monthly participation total, but your poet buddies will appreciate your sincere kudos privately.


Following are the guidelines for using the THEORY topic.

  • Journal Reviews: If you have first hand knowledge of a journal where we might submit our work, label it THEORY: Journal Review (or THEORY: Name of Journal).

  • Teaching Poetic Forms: If you'd like to teach us a particular form (sonnet, rondel, etc.) label it THEORY: Sonnet. If you use examples, take care not to violate copyright laws.

  • Poetic Theory: If you'd like to tell us what such poets as Rich, Frost, Eliot, et.al. have to say about writing poetry, use the label THEORY: Pinsky on Poetry. Or poetry concepts can be labeled as THEORY: Show Don't Tell.
Please note:
  • Don't use this thread to argue critiques or to elaborate on your own work or critiques.
  • Workshop administrators reserve the right to call a halt to this thread at any time if it is causing problems or taking up too much time.
Poetry-W is a peer workshop and every member is expected to participate. Please feel free to make yourself a niche in this group and relax. We are all here to learn and enjoy!
For more information, please email the administrators, Barry Mulligan and Shayla Mollohan.

Web site created by Rhéal Nadeau and the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.