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Shore Lines

Time to Wake Up, Phil

Today marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Tomorrow, in Punxsutawny, Pennsylvania, a large rodent will be pulled from his den and held up, grumpy and blinking and not ready to get up, to tell us whether winter will continue for another six weeks. Somehow I think it will.


Many of us start the new year like Punxsutawney Phil, and those of us who are not morning people tend to get up grumpy. For that reason, I've always found the morning session at the Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway to be my least favorite. It requires people like me to be sociable enough to read and discuss poetry with a table full of other poets until it's time to receive the day's prompt. This year, because the workshop was online, I didn't have to get up early enough to shower and put on reasonably acceptable clothes, or walk outside in freezing cold to get to the hotel's large ballroom for the session. I could stay in my comfy sweats and bring my coffee to the desk in my office. After we heard the day's inspirational poems read by the poetry faculty, we were sent into Zoom breakout rooms to chat about the poems for a few awkward minutes. Sometimes it took longer than normal to get rolling—it's so much easier to discuss poetry face to face—and always we'd be cut off just as the discussion really got rolling, but it was a decent approximation of the usual process.


After getting the day's prompt, I'd leave the computer, settle into a comfy spot with more coffee and some dark chocolate, draft the day's poem, and break for lunch. In the afternoon, I'd spend three hours workshopping with nine or ten other poets. That part worked better than I had hoped. Zoom sessions may be weird, but they're a lifeline for those of us who need the company of other writers. Having four new draft poems, with suggestions for revision, is a great way to start the year, even for those of us who have a hard time with mornings. Tomorrow, Punxsutawny Phil will have all my sympathy.

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