So I did go north to, essentially, Pacific Grove, for that workshop. And I used every suggestion I could get from my friends and most of the ones I rely on. The students at Asilomar were a lovely group who’d been meeting off and on for more than 30 years. They knew a lot, but the ghazal seemed new. And the “talismanic word” exercise from a summer ago at Hamline really propelled some interesting dialogue.
We were together for a day and a half, including meals, so we got to talk a lot. One of the things that came up was the number of workshops all over the country. At least a few of these folks had been in others in different parts of the U.S.
That led us into writing poems about workshops (Billy Collins has a beauty) and overnight a few people kept working on theirs. The best one had a very cool image: in a AAA office, the woman had seen a map of America with a little light for every major tourist attraction. So the poet wanted another kind of map, one that had a light for every poetry writing workshop. She said that every time a group met, the light would go on. So that on some nights, the light from the map alone would be bright enough read by.