r Kalliope Poetry Exercise Workshop Introduction

Kalliope, Muse of Heroic Poetry: Online Poetics Workshop





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Kalliope is a list that focuses on developing the craft of poetry through group participation in exercise examples of various poetic techniques. Kalliope is designed as a basic course in poetry, with lab.

Back in January, 1997, I graduated from a wonderful workshop called Writelab, the first fiction workshop on the Internet based on a series of exercises. Each exercise, written by Jilla Lankford, introduced a basic element of fiction technique -- POV, setting, etc -- and set a writing challenge to use that technique. We then critiqued each other's submissions.

One night I was thinking, "If only we had a Writelab for poetry." And within a week I had found a group of poets who also liked the idea. We wrote our first exercises, hashed out procedures that would help each member get the most benefit out of the exercises, and began setting up web pages. And here we are.

Each session, we post a Primer, discussing one aspect of poetic theory or technique in detail, with examples. Each Primer includes one or more Exercises designed to practice the techniques discussed in the Primer. The Primers are archived on our web page. Later Primers will be available only to members, but the beginning Primers are available to all.

The only requirement for membership in Kalliope is a willingness to work at your craft and to help and encourage your fellow poets. We all need feedback, and we learn by critiquing as much as we do by writing.

We also encourage studying all sources on the craft of the Muse, and above all -- reading good poetry. We have compiled resource pages, including both lists of good and useful books in print, and links to great poetry resources on the Web.

The exercises in the Kalliope On-Line Poetry Workshop have been designed to cover a wide spread of the aspects of poetry, from the most basic to the most advanced. We are adding to them on an ongoing basis, and we welcome suggestions.

If you are visiting our site, and are not presently a member, you are welcome to browse the Primer material and try the exercises for yourself. The advantages in subscribing to the list are: you have access to more Primers; and you can exchange feedback with others doing the same exercises.

The following information is of primary interest to Kalliope members.

Primers are posted to the workshop as email, in a progression from the first to the last. Each Primer has both Basic and Advanced exercises. You may choose to do only the Basic exercises, or only the Advanced ones, or only the ones you find interesting. You may have dropped into the workshop to smooth out your meter, or to develop your imagery, or to learn how to write haiku, and that is all you are interested in doing.

We have made the Workshop as flexible as possible, for the usefulness of all. There are some guidelines that will increase that usefulness.

To get the most out of each topic, do each exercise as you come to it. You may, however, choose to do only the Basic exercises, or only the Advanced, or only the ones that interest you at the moment.

Whichever exercises you do, in whichever order, put the title of the exercise in the subject header of your post and include your name (for those whose mail programs don't show this info without opening the message). For example:

Basic Iambic (Anitra Freeman)

You may use your initials instead of a full name.

When you pick a sub to critique, go to this Exercise Page, (or an email copy of it if you do not have web access) and locate the exercise title given in the subject line. Look up the Exercise and Critique Guidelines for that particular heading, to make your critique most useful to both yourself and the member you are critiquing, in developing an understanding of the topic.

You can recognize, I hope, that you will get more critiques, and more useful ones, if you give the exercise title in your subject line.

When posting a crit, keep the exercise title and the author's name or initials, and add your name or initials. Example:

Basic Iambic (Anitra Freeman) (Edna Millay)

One way of using the workshop is:

1. Read a topic.
2. Do an exercise.
3. Post your creation.
4. Read the critiques of others on your own work.
5. Read the critiques of others on work that you critiqued.
6. Read the critiques of others on work you didn't critique.

You may not do all of the above, or in that order. But as in many other things, you will get out of the workshop what you put into it; the more you do of the above, the more you will develop as a poet.


Anitra Freeman, Project Leader

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