As a reader, you may find it hard to speak frankly in the poet's presence about words, images, and ideas charged with personal expression. Yet in doing so, you help the writer see how the poem affects another person, and how it might evolve in a future draft.

Whether you prefer reading and discussing poetry or mostly like writing it, keep this interplay of making and responding in mind. An image from a friend's poem may light a spark in you. Or your friend, noting how you use, or don't use punctuation may want to "borrow" your technique. If so, be flattered. Poets are great inventors, but also great borrowers--forever indebted to predecessors and contemporaries. And today's brilliant innovation becomes tomorrow's cliché, soon tossed aside to be reborn later. But that's all part of the fun.

As you read widely, attend poetry readings, and join writing groups, your imagination is inspired, your vision enlarged. Read and discuss today's poets. Read yesterday's poets. Read poets from close to home. Read poets from far away.

The more poetry you read, write, and discuss, the more you'll appreciate the range of possibilities open to you. And your understanding of life, of what it is to be human, will keep growing, too.

Throughout this dynamic give and take, response sessions offer vital communication, an exchange of experience and insight at the heart of why poetry matters. A poem shared is a gift given. 

Like inhaling and exhaling, like listening and speaking, sharing and making poems are two parts of a larger process. When we read or hear poetry, we absorb words, images, ideas, fresh perspectives, new insights. When we discuss or write poetry, we invigorate an ancient tradition that constantly evolves and reshapes itself. And we, too, are renewed and enriched in this process.

The blogs, workshops, and discussion groups on this site offer excellent opportunities for sharing and discussing poetry. The more actively you participate the more you'll grow as a writer — and as a person.