For the past three weeks I’ve been taking a poetry workshop. Overall, I find workshops to be helpful. Helpful in the way that aspirin relieves a headache. Whenever my brain freezes and no poetry comes out I get the urge to sign-up for a class, adding a few tools to my writer’s toolbox each time. I really enjoy the whole experience of a workshop. It’s like auditioning for American Idol, being naked, pretending nothing phases you; after all, you want to be a professional, right? So, the whole time I wear my poker face and listen to the comments that my classmates make. The whole time I’m waiting for the verdict: does the poem do its job or not?

I am most excited about the rigor of the workshop. How my instructor doesn’t let me slide by on being clever, or those lazy lines that we poets sometimes crunch out. On my first day, my instructor identified a poet that was close to our developing aesthetic and charged us with finding a copy of their book before next class—whether the book was in print or not. It was hell on earth (but I loved it!) I’m learning (even while I’m typing this) the best thing that a workshop can give a writer is a fire: a thirst that will continue beyond the last day of the workshop.

Are you still thirsty from a recent workshop?