Updraft Candle

Participant Evaluations

Thank You letter 
from Child

Updraft Evaluations (Spring 2010)

Cyndi's Evaluation

I enjoyed participating in the poetry workshop very much. I enjoy both the jump-start creative process at the beginning of each lesson and the personal critiquing at the end. Usually we're given other types of art to springboard from, which helps to get the mind moving, and to collect a list of images to work from. Everyone gets individual attention and immediate feedback, which would be very hard to get in any type of university class.

I would like to see the workshop continue with that format, and perhaps add more of the refining process; discuss how rhythm and word play affect each poem, how changing syllables in a line can make it feel different, and how to read poems out loud. Also, to discuss the common threads running through our images and how to make them into a cohesive poem that can stand alone. Usually we do this instinctively, but it might be fun to focus on that for one lesson.


Ken's Evaluation

I have again been challenged by both agreeable and disagreeable exercises that, brand new, have all brought out, as past exercises had done, even more new flopping creativity from the deep pike-infested waters within me. But then, you are a teacher/mentor.

The whole thing would be just usefully inspiring, were it not for the other participants. Some I know well, some I've met infrequently, but the input they bring through their work and quirks and comments is the toasted marshmallow in your S'mores. Having old friends (P and C) you can criticize and who do not spare with their doubts (as they never penny-pinch with their inspiration) you can share with is more welcome than any drafty writers attic.

Suddenly, there is "now, for something completely different" an unknown poetic pyromaniac who sets fire to the seat of my ironed and creased pants, who points out "crazy walks" to poetry and things about our work, we likely hadn't recognized!

I enthusiastically recommend your workshop to everybody.

Updraft Evaluations (Summer 2003)

Carolyn's Evaluation

I found this class extremely valuable. When I signed up for the course, I felt that I needed to take my writing to a new level but I had no idea how to get there. I found the exercises extremely useful in getting me out of my old 'track' and moving my writing in new directions. The critique from both Scott and other poets is invaluable -- it is very positive and very helpful in providing guidance for revision and future work. Scott is a very talented teacher and really has a gift for bringing out each writer's unique point of view and ability.

This was my first experience with both online education and online chat and I was pleasantly surprised about how well it works. It was interesting to learn about writing by writing, instead of talking. And the ability to keep the entire conversation for future reference is also very useful.

I would definitely take this workshop again. I think that the format and the method is one for limitless learning and development as a writer.


Nancy's Evaluation

I really enjoyed the class and all the interaction with the other poets. The format is a very different approach for me. I don't do my best writing under limiting conditions, or when I'm pressured for time, so the exercises were challenging. A poem is something I think about in my head for weeks before I even try to commit it to paper, so for me staying with the exercises was tough but did take me in directions I didn't think I'd go in. I had a few logistical issues with the class. Having the instructor's critique of the poems posted just prior to the next class gave me no time to reflect on his comments before turning, again in another direction for the new exercise.

I found Scott's comments helpful, honest and very useful, if a little late in the week; it would be nice to see instructor critiques by Thursday of the following week. His in class encouragement is unmatched! I really enjoyed the in class critique of other classmates as well.

How about a class where poets are given total creative freedom and the time is spent critiquing work more intensely...? Thanks to all, it's been a really great experience!


Ken's Evaluation

It was a very pleasing experience for me to be confronted with a group of women poets with very well-defined female “attitudes” who were all also miles ahead of me poetically. It helped me to realize fully the ambiguity in the claims of traditional poetry to humanity and universality (which I had perceived strictly in a socio-political manner without the gender issue being involved). I still love the dead white men, but really appreciate having had the chance to be “outvoiced”.

I promise not to use “and then he went off to work” in more than seven new poems. This was something my mother said zillions of times, but it never occurred to me use it until Paula so effectively described the action. I don’t think I ever realized what Mom meant, until I read Paula’s poem! (I’m afraid I still thoroughly appreciate my father’s point of view!)

I am looking forward to the possibility of a new workshop and hope I will be invited and that the times will be right, so I can attend.

Thank you so much for your keen understanding (a piano that keeps playing while you spin around on the stool) and your ever-insightful criticisms (even a feather can hit a nail on the head.)

Updraft Evaluations (Winter 1999)

Miguel's Evaluation

This class was particularly delightful because of the talent each poet brought, as well as the diversity of each. This time around I felt that you pushed us more. You were less the typical clapping at everything poetry audience and more critical. This was difficult at first (even though I have wanted this for a while) but in the long run it took us to a deeper understanding of poetry and ourselves. I go to a lot of poetry readings and cannot stand the clapping at everything. It's as if it were therapy and bad therapy at that.

I guess my only criticism is that maybe there should be an aspect to the class that covers performing and publishing. Or maybe that can be an a separate class or an advanced class. Or maybe some discussion of poetry today, where did it come from?, where is it going? I really enjoy this class and your teaching style. I have learned a lot and I think that my poetry has improved because of it. It's still not there yet, but I am enjoying the journey.

Thank you.


Paula's Evaluation

This was my third experience and, as in the previous workshops, I found it useful and enlightening. Your commenting on the posts, each week, prepared us to face the weak and strong points in our poems.

On-line classes were vivacious and your feedback and pressing questions helped us see through what apparently worked, what could be improved, dropped, enhanced. I agree with Miguel that this time you were more critical than usual, pushing, in a sense. This is all right with me; I suppose that all poets are "in love" with what they write and love can be blind at times ... yet, if I have to move criticism, it's that to stress the negative, weak points is absolutely correct and the reason why a poet takes part in a workshop; at the same time, it can be frustrating to focus only on the negative.

Sure is that the weak points are the ones to work on, but to know, in the end, whether there is a fundamental value in the creation, no matter how many revisions the poem needs, is of fundamental importance as well.

Your task, anyway, is to help us improve and show us how, and you did an excellent job. The poems you gave us as "models" were excellent and varied, as well as the examples of which lines, stanzas didn't work and why.

So, to conclude, again a positive experience. You are a demanding teacher, and I have learned, from experience, that demanding teachers get the best results from students.

Thank you.


Pradeep's Evaluation

whew! it sure was a 8 weeks long whirlwind. i learnt to carry the cleaver and become less emotional of what i had written if it did not fit. the composition of the class was interesting and i was introduced to varied forms of writing and interpretation. my only suggestion is that i was losing a day's head start for the exercises. damn! time difference. can you do something about that. all in all a rewarding experience!

regards pradeep


Syyd's Evaluation

I found this to be at first, the most frustrating, and then, one of the most rewarding writing experiences I have encountered.

The lessons, were unique, and very strong, the poetry given as example, non-parallel, in its ability to evoke stronger writing, and a sense of what you are asking for in the assignment. It is crucial to read every word of those lessons, and at first I never got past the poems, thinking I could just pump something luscious but, failing miserably. The third lesson just blew me away, and from then on, I saw and felt the improvement.

I feel I came into this thing, a virtual confessional flop, and walked out, a much stronger writer, with a little confidence, and some bona-fide writing knowledge.

I also learned to take criticism, and grow from of it, instead of cowering, or arguing about it. I was able to change my writing, by understanding how to evoke a stronger sense of self, and image without falling under a heap of trash and adjectives.

One of the most difficult things I learned, is when to realize a work is good, and when another poet is simply voicing their own internal dialogue on writing. That is the most difficult thing to do.

Thank you so much. I am truly, truly, better at writing than when I started. Now to find footing from here.