Poets of Babel
Last year (2021), during the Jewish autumn festival of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), I attended a local gathering of poets in Jerusalem, hosted by Shoshana – a poet I’d come across here on WordPress who happens to live down the street from me. Then, in May ’22, I attended another poetry reading organized by Shoshana.
It is now Sukkot again, and Shoshana once again invited local poets to her sukkah (ritual hut) to share poetry and hang out. In fact, my ‘Соус, or: Соул’ poem, which I wrote for d’Verse on Tuesday night, was birthed in Shoshana’s sukkah that same evening, the product of a dictionary-based writing assignment that she gave us.
Need for connection
I still recall my tremendous excitement last autumn at discovering Shoshana and her poetry group, which she calls ‘Poets of Babel’. Here on WordPress, I had been writing poetry and interacting with writers from all over the world for more than a year by then; but I was deeply feeling my lack of in-person connection to other poets.
To a large extent, this remains today a great part of my motivation to attend the ‘Poets of Babel’ events that Shoshana organizes, even if they only come once or twice a year. It feels very grounding and and comforting to sit among fellow human beings and share some of our deepest words. As such, when I saw that Shoshana was organizing a poetry reading this week, I immediately knew that I would be attending.
Things in my life have changed for the better since I attended my first ‘Poets of Babel’ poetry reading one year ago; and I find myself generally more fulfilled socially and creatively.
The Skeptic’s Kaddish
This blog has evolved over the course of the last year, much to my satisfaction:
- In autumn ’21, I launched my ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative, inviting other poets to share their works with me to publish at The Skeptic’s Kaddish, along with personal poetic responses from me. Since then, I’ve responded to 138 poems; both creatively and socially, this has been incredibly rewarding.
- In spring ’22, I created the W3 poetry prompt, which was actually inspired by ‘Poetry Partners’. I’d been having so much fun responding to other writers’ poems, I reasoned that other poets would probably also enjoy it! That’s why W3 was designed to be “bottom up”, rather than “top down”, which means I’m not personally providing the prompts. Instead, W3 leaves that to other community members. Managing W3 these last five months continues to be a blast!
- My poetry partnership(s) with Sangeetha, which we began in the spring of ’21, are still ongoing; we’re now on our third series of poems! These ongoing projects of ours are so much fun – and so creatively stimulating. While I’ve never met Sangeetha in person, I feel deeply connected to her.
New job at The Jewish Agency
In May, I began a new job as a writer for The Jewish Agency for Israel, which continues to be wonderful for me in many ways, not least of which is – social. See, whereas I had been working for a tiny NGO with only four full-time employees prior to joining The Jewish Agency, I’m now working for one of the largest Jewish NGOs in the world.
This means that I have many more coworkers than I once did – and, as it turns out, they’re all lovely people. I know, I know… that sounds too good to be true! But it is true – I truly like all of my coworkers – I’m happy to see them and talk with them at work. Of course, social considerations are not necessarily the most important when deciding to take a new job, but given how many hours we spend at work every day, they’re quite significant!
Actually, it’s not only that my co-workers are nice – they’re also interesting. For me, poetry is not only a creative outlet, but an intellectual one… And now, at my new job, I get regular intellectual stimulation from interesting conversations at the office.
Poets of Babel
While Shoshana’s ‘Poets of Babel’ group only meets a couple of times a year, that has proven to be enough of an in-person connection with other poets for me. To be honest, I’m not sure how many more times I could attend poetry reading events annually, given everything else that I have going on (multiple jobs, fatherhood, The Skeptic’s Kaddish).
Where I’m at today
So, as I was sitting in Shoshana’s sukkah this week, enjoying the company; the poetry; and the nosh, I realized that I’m in a much better place today than I was one year ago… And I feel that I’ve gotten to a really good place with my community at WordPress – it’s taken me a while to get here, but I find great personal, social, and creative fulfillment from my blog.
I’m no longer quite as hungry for new connections with other creatives as I was even one year ago… And that is a heartening, happy feeling.
82 thoughts on “In-person versus online poetry community”
I was published in Baltimore, SF, Seattle, Greensboro, DC, Oregon, et. al., before I threw in the towel, concerning worrying about what anyone else had to say about what I’d written.
👍🏻 I am totally with you
One person’s concept of it is, most-likely, slightly if not completely different than another person’s concept of it. I flourished in the academic poetry world in Baltimore, then Greensboro, NC, then New Haven, CT.
What I’m saying is that the fact that creative writing, much less poetry writing is, for the most part, anything that anyone wants to make of it.
Well I’ve actually figured out, after having been writing poetry, seriously, since 1986/7, is that many people are really really simple and really want to try other people communication; others don’t really want to listen.
What do you mean by this?
I don’t understand the following line you wrote:
I could sense the satisfaction and the smile as you wrote this! A happy work environment is precious and it does spill into all other areas of your life – especially the home. They say “a happy wife, a happy life” but I think “a happy life creates a happy wife (and child)”! ❤
💕🙏🏻 Muri 🙏🏻💕
Mazel Tov David!
Makes me happy to hear!
I remember your first poetry reading.. Glad you are still doing it and finding it satisfying.
🤍🙏🏻 Cindy 🙏🏻🤍
It’s been hit or miss, for me. I started out in 1986/1987, in creative writing class, in the Baltimore region and, at that point in time, Baltimore was really a fertile environment for poetry writing.
Greensboro, North Carolina, too, was pretty amazing. New Haven, Connecticut was sort of good. However, on the west coast, in Seattle, washington, it was hit or miss. People seemed to be more interested in being seen at a poetry reading, as opposed to wanting to hear other people or have their words be heard.
I totally get that. That sucks.
As far as I can tell, where I’m at, now, seems to be good for poetry, in the Washington, DC region. There’s a restaurant/bar chain, called Busboys And Poets.
When I’ve been in there, it’s seemed pretty decent; I’ve never had time to check out any readings, there, and we’ve been unwilling to eat or hang out, since covid has arisen.
I lived in DC! I’ve heard of them! 💖
My friend Shoshana comes from Baltimore❣️
How old is Shoshana? I’m 51. Could I possibly have hangout anywhere where she would have been?
She’s in her early 40’s
It possible. I’d have to do the math. I used to hang out on Mount Royal Avenue and also on 25th Street. If she’s in her early forties, I doubt it.
her photo is on her blog here:
I’m really not sure.
She looks a little bit like one person I remember.
💗🙏🏻 Dawn 🙏🏻💗
Happy for you , David.
💚 💛 🧡 Yassy 🧡 💛 💚
Your happiness is bursting out of you, David! I’m glad this past difficult time has resolved itself. Keep writing poetry. It’s a joy to read!
💕🙏🏻 Colleen 🙏🏻💕
David, I am glad that your new job has proven to be enjoyable and fulfilling. People spend so many hours at work, and it contributes so much to our well-being when we enjoy our work. I know that parenting is something that contributes enormously to your happiness. Creative pursuits also enhance satisfaction. Wishing you continued, and well-deserved, satisfaction in your life. ❤
💜🙏🏻 Cheryl 🙏🏻💜 ~ thank you so very much.
I can certainly relate to the need for socialization. About a year and a half ago, I tried starting a writer’s group, but it didn’t work out. I may have to try it again. Though I have enjoyed it, interacting online is just not the same.
💛 Brandon 💛 ~ I hope you do! How would a writers’ group work? Would it be for reading your writings? Or writing together?
A little of both. The one I would like to do is for writers to bring whatever they are working on, read a portion of it, and get feedback from the group. Then, we all work on a writing prompt together. I have been a part of one that was similar to this in structure and it worked well.
Sounds so lovely 😍