Hilaire writes: Joolz and I met up last week to review our progress so far and to share the poems we’ve reworked following our first mentoring session with Jacqueline Saphra.
In the past, we’ve tended to only show each other new London Undercurrents poems when they’ve felt pretty much “finished” to the poet. Feedback from the other poet has, on the whole, been light – a typo, a misplaced apostrophe, perhaps a suggestion to change a line break.
Arguably, we’ve been too gentle, too polite with each other.
It possibly stems from when we were still figuring out how we wanted to work together and were treading lightly. No doubt I also expressed some anxiety, along the lines of ‘I’m not very good at receiving critical feedback’.
But in our mentoring session Jacqui hadn’t let us get away with remaining mute, and we were soon conversing about each other’s poems in a way we hadn’t before. She made us ‘woman-up’ and inject more rigour into our feedback.
Old habits die hard though and, once by ourselves again, I found myself falling back into remaining quiet after Joolz had given me her newly reworked poems.
While I’ve certainly got better at receiving feedback, I still find it difficult to give constructive feedback as an immediate response. So I still mm-ed a lot reading through Joolz’s new version of Hollywood comes to Holloway – but could see she’s definitely tightened it up, and the way it is now structured as couplets works really well. Her suggestions and comments on the poems I shared were all very helpful.
We talked about how we both found it harder to edit the poems that we’ve performed regularly, and know inside and out in their former form. But as Joolz showed with her Hollywood poem it can be done!
We also discussed making each poem distinctive, in both tone and form on the page. And agreed that we want to crack on with writing new poems, as well as sharpening existing ones. The most valuable feedback Joolz gave me that evening is that I need to be more forthcoming in my feedback on her poems – fewer quiet ‘mms’ and more, ‘I’m not sure what you mean here’ or ‘have you thought about switching this around?’. Message received, Ma’am!