Eveningdownpour's Workshop: Nonfiction Po

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:new: 28th February 2008

This workshop is now CLOSED. All entries are at the end of this journal. As always, we encourage you to critique each other, and those of you who did not participate should try offering critique as well, to be involved if not anything else. There are 16 entries in total.

18th February 2008

EveningDownpour’s Workshop: Nonfiction Poetry

:iconeveningdownpour: EveningDownpour is a high school English teacher and part-time college writing professor in Pennsylvania; she has articles in several scholarly journals, two nationally-known print magazines, and a plethora of internet-based publications. When not working or workshopping, she spends her spare time grading papers, researching and preparing her dissertation, and hanging out with her husband and young son.

What is Nonfiction Poetry?

Nonfiction poetry accomplishes the goal of a nonfiction piece but does it through poetry instead of prose. So what, then, is the goal of nonfiction writing?

Nonfiction writing attempts to inform or instruct by conveying facts. Now, facts are a tricky thing. Ten people can watch the same fight, but each person will have their own unique interpretation of the event. Were you to ask what happened, it's likely you'll get ten different stories. Did each of those people lie to you? No, absolutely not. They told you the facts as they perceived them. So, in nonfiction writing, the facts may or may not be accurate depending on who, what, why, and how someone is presenting them.  Even so, the person giving you the facts usually believes that these facts are accurate and truthful. There is rarely a conscious intention to "make something up".

Nonfiction poetry is also concerned with conveying facts. These can be facts like those you'd find in an encyclopedia (for example, one can write an informative children's poem about tigers), they can be emotional facts relevant to a real-life experience, they can be facts the deal with the retelling of a real-life experience, they can be facts that try to persuade, or they can be facts about anything thing else you can think of. They simply must be facts.

Does this mean your poem must be boring and read like the encyclopedia? Heavens, no! Does it mean your poem has to rhyme like all those cheesy children's books? Absolutely not (although it can). Does it mean your poem has to teach? Nope, not at all (but, again, it can). It simply means you're writing a poem with the intent to tell real facts about a real situation; you are informing your reader. You can use all your metaphors and similes and sensory images and hyperboles in nonfiction poetry; in fact, you should pay special attention to how you use poetic devices to convey your facts. Nothing changes except your intent.

And your intent--the author's purpose in writing nonfiction poetry--is to convey a fact (or facts) with the purpose to inform or instruct (or, in some cases, both).

What is the task?

Start with one situation, one event, one memory, one encyclopedia entry, one--anything that involves something directly out of your real life or the real world. Write down the most important facts you want to convey about that situation/event/memory/entry etc. (Make sure you keep this list handy and include it in your Artist's comments once you submit the piece to dA.) The subject is up to you. The facts are as you perceive them.

Now, write a poem that conveys those facts (or that fact). Write to inform or instruct your reader. (Yes, they are two different things.)

Please, no poems longer than 30 lines.

<>The Workshop</b>

Taking your Fact List into account, EveningDownpour will review your poem and offer suggestions on common poetic conventions and devices, in addition to offering content revision strategies relevant to how well you achieved your purpose. Only select poems will receive an in-depth critique, but all poems will receive general advice and constructive criticism.

How to Submit

After submitting your entry as a new deviation or scrap, send us a note with a link to your poem. Include the subject line "NONFICTION POEM" in your note. The deadline is midnight February 27th, 2008. All times are set for GMT. EveningDownpour will respond to the entries on March 2nd, 2008.

A note from Writers-Workshop: Please note that this is a poetry workshop, meaning that we will only submit poetry entries. Proofread your work before you send it in so that grammatical and spelling errors are minimal. Research as much as possible; if you're already read magic realist fiction, work that to your advantage. And most of all, have fun with it! :)

:note: On Accepting Critique

:bulletblue: Always thank the critic. This gratitude must be as sincere as possible, even if you did not like the critique given, because the critic has taken time to offer his/her opinion of the piece.
:bulletblue: If you do not like the critique, it is not necessary to mention so. Simply thank the critic and move on. You can always ignore their suggestions, while not making a scene of it.
:bulletblue: If you are unsure of what the critique means, feel free to ask the critic what s/he meant. Building rapport with your critic is one of the best ways to survive in a workshop and to learn. If you want examples, ask. Similarly, if you like the suggestions given, mention it. Critic's have feelings too. :)
:bulletblue: In the unlikely case that a critic offers rude/sexist/racist/etc comments, feel free to contact Writers-Workshop in a note and we will try to help you. A decision regarding the rudeness of the critique will be taken, and if we're not sure ourselves, we will consult with one of the GDs or anyone else high up on deviantART.

:heart: Don’t forget to :+fav: our News Article too!

The Entries… (in alphabetical order)

Urinal Etiquette by batousaijin
The Mechanics of Sucking Candy by Erinamis
Existentialism on the Interney by FiniteIncantatem
The African Cichild by fense
Where We Were by GaioumonBatou
The PBA tour v 06 by GrimEden
Biology Class by infrangiblegreen
Gaze by inspiredimperfection
On Martians by John-A-Dreams
One Thing Missing by leoraigarath
Numbers by littlexzingara
Chinese Egret by livingtoxic
Remember by mwiings
Walking in Gardens by sweetcapris
Nimbus Red by wretchedteddy
Honey by xCamix

:star: batousaijin also got a bit carried away with this workshop, and submitted these additional nonfiction poems. There is no obligation to critique these:

The Fine Art of Steering
On the Bayou
Drowning a Rat

CSS by Freesong
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mwiings's avatar
I am not entirely sure on the strength of my entry but decided that either way I'd enter a piece and almost lost it to devious technology but luckily I didnt. If we miss a workshop and then decide to still write something for it, can we note U?