Archive for the ‘Teaching Poetry’ Category

Get Serious About Your Poetry in 2011

January 25, 2011

You write poetry. Maybe you even get brave and go to poetry open mics. Maybe you even get up the courage to actually get up and read. You like to write your poetry, but you feel a bit like Emily Dickinson, a hidden poet.

Well in 2011, come out as a poet and join a critique group. My Saratoga Poetry Focus Group has been running continuously for 21 years and counting. Our maximum of six poets per monthly meeting gets 30-45 minutes to read their poems, hear their poems read to them, get round-table critique for each poem, ask questions of the group, even tell the group what kind of critique they want. For example, when, like now, I am working on my poetry books, I ask for a 1-5 number on each poem I read only once. 1 is best trashed; 2 needs a lot of work; 3 needs work; 4 almost finished; and 5 finished. I can plow through lots of poems this way and get a feel for the response, especially with five people writing their numbers on each poem.

Some people ask questions about where to start getting published, where to find a printer, how to create a chap book, how to get a mainstream pubisher interested in pubishing them.

If you are local to Saratoga Springs, New York, give me a call and let me know where you are with your poetry and how the Saratoga Poetry Focus
Group may be able to help you move forward in the direction of your goals. Contact: Barbara Garro at


Celebrating 21 Years Running The Saratoga Poetry Focus Group

December 30, 2010

Imagine we poets coming together around the cherry table for 21 years and counting! And, wow, have we poets published poetry books, some handmade, some illustrated with art, some with seasonal themes in sets of four, some for family and friends, most for sale.

What makes the group special is the poetry and the wonderful round table critique to polish the poems for publication.

All poets are invited to submit ten pages of poetry to be considered to join the group that meets the third Wednesday of each month, barring holidays, from 9-Noon sharp! Call 518-587-9999 if you are interested.

Now, for some exciting news! Dystenium will be publishing its first ever poetry/art book of my poems and fine art together in January 2011. I am beyond excited to see my two creative activities paired. Stay tuned. I am waiting for the galley expected in December and I am hoping to see it tomorrow or Friday.

What Makes a Poet Great?

August 13, 2010

Sitting in Fastig-Tipton’s beautiful facility in Saratoga Springs, New York, at the annual National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony, I listened to the greats among the greatest trainers, jockeys and owners. I discovered that greatness is achieved in the very same way by those who aspire to it whether they are writing poetry or racing horses.

Garro on Greatness–

1.  Greatness is not a moment, but many moments of greatness of never being satisfied that begins in early childhood with those who provided inspiration or at least did not get in the way.

2.  The greats have the ability to work through challenges and not screw up.

3.  The greats possess the motivation of the force of hard work to bring out the best in themselves.

4.  Mere talent is not enough. The greats possess talent, toughness and tenacity with enough endurance to achieve success, however long it takes.

5. Most of all, the greats have a desire to say about their lives at the end of their days, “Well done!”

Life is a horse race. At any given moment or second, anything can happen. Those who have prepared are ready to deal with it.

Poets Need a Poetry Group

May 19, 2010

For over twenty years, I have run a writing group. Currently, I run the Saratoga Poetry Focus Group, which meets every third Wednesday from nine to noon with from four to six poets who get from 30 to 45 minutes each to read their poems, hear their poems read to them and get a round table commentary about what works and suggestions for improvements.

We met today with four poets for three hours and I heard really good poetry from three good poets and got feedback on my own poetry. Currently, I am working on five full books of poetry, so I asked for just numbers 1-5 for a big stack of my poems that I read only once while the group had copies in front of them. 5 means finished, 4 almost finished, 3 needs work, 2 needs a lot of work, and 1 is crap that does not deserve my time.

Why do poets need a poetry group? Because poets need feedback on the poems they are writing to understand how others perceive them. While writing in a vacuum may have worked for Emily Dickinson, know that she chose her reclusive life.

Not a groupie? Don’t want to join a regular group? Then, be brave enough to get yourself out to open microphone  poetry readings and learn what poems work for people by assessing their reactions when you read your poetry.