About Me

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Jim Croteau lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with his partner of 31 years, Darryl, and their two Labrador retrievers. He grew up gay and Catholic and white in the southern United States in the 1960’s and 70’s and has spent his adult life in small non-coastal cities, mostly in the Midwest. He loved his mother very much. He began writing poetry in May 2012 at first to cope with life in times of aging and then, well, he sorta caught the poetry bug. He is still working as a professor in Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology at Western Michigan University.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Online sources that are worth a hoot, stanza 2

I have good writing news from news this morning (more on that ambiguous comment in a subsequent post)---but this post is written in gratitude for the help I have gotten from online sources in beginning my poetry writing (and hopefully if anyone reads this it will point out some good resources for other writers to use). I was really at zero with knowing much about poetry, wanted to give it a go though, and looked for a way to learn online last summer.

Considering the tenuousness of whether I would find it rewarding or be the least good at it, I also looked for affordability.  What I found turned out very well, indeed affordable ($99), and it really inspired me to continue this journey of writing poetry.  The community college systems across the country have short courses, no college credit, offered at www.ed2go.com. You register in conjunction with a local community college (Kellogg was the one offering it in this area) but you take the course with students from all over the world.  My instructor was Melody Gough and she was absolutely perfect for me--a great combination of feedback that pushed, support, and some real practicality to this whole writing poetry thing.  I'd recommend it strongly, and thank Melody for helping at a time when I really needed it.

The other source that I found really helpful later last summer was the online continuing ed courses offered at the University of Wisconsin continuing education unit (http://www.dcs.wisc.edu/lsa/online/writing/poetry.htm. They have a two course sequence that is self-paced, has modules with reading/writing exercises and information, and involves interacting with an instructor via email ten times (2 exchanges about each of 5 poems you have written.) I missed the interaction with other students in the community college course and feedback was definitely more geared toward challenging, less geared toward support (though always friendly). But I learned a ton from the first course in the sequence and plan to do the second one this summer. Angela Rydell was my instructor and I am grateful to her, she helped me work on the poem that was my first publication, Evan (see a later post for a link to that poem).

I also have gotten some excellent help by sending in my poems for line by line comment.  There are a number of working poets/editors who offer this service.  It is a little more costly, but sometimes--I think if things just fall right--you can get some really good ideas. I learned quite a bit this way. The poet who has looked at three rounds of poems from me is Kelli Russell Agodon. She has a blog I enjoy too and I think you can find information about her services there at http://ofkells.blogspot.com/2013/03/todays-thought-for-day-to-consider.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BookOfKells+%28Book+of+Kells+%29 . If the link does not work her blog is called Book of Kells.  I also love her poetry!

Finally in my online training, is the ongoing workshop offered by Hoot--a postcard review of {mini} poetry and prose at  http://www.hootreview.com.  Amanda Vacharat and Dorian Geisler are the editors and they offer a free workshop chat session on Wednesday nights.  I have been in the workshop most Wednesday nights since sometime in August of 2012 and must have work-shopped my poems 18-20 times.  I learn as much from participating in discussing what others submit as from work-shopping my own stuff as. The editors help you learn to think about poetry--they really facilitate you giving feedback too.  It is friendly workshop but not at all afraid of direct feedback.  You get multiple point of views including occasional bits of short debate now and again about reactions to the poems being work-shopped. I have, undoubtedly, learned more from this than any other source.  Thank you Amanda and Dorian. Check the review out--the postcards are fantastic and inexpensive to subscribe to, and check out the workshop.  That workshop has been my primary writing community.

Hope hearing about my experiences with online learning is helpful. Feel free to post about other online sources you know about.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Trying to be a poet, stanza 1

This is my inaugural post on my new blog that is focused on creative writing musings as I attempt to refocus my life toward creative endeavors.  I took up poetry writing in May 2012 at a time of transition: me passing 55, just having seen my parents through the last years of their life, career ambition waning, settled into a good long-term relationship (year 27 at that time), retirement on the horizon . . .  So after sporadic journaling all my life as a creative/reflective endeavor, I decided to take on a new way to assemble life and meaning----I wanted to write poetry. More on the journey soon . . .