Thursday, April 16, 2009
Working on Writing
Earlier this month I wrote a poem based on Dante Gabriel Rossetti's painting La Pia de Tolomei -- you can read my rough draft here.
On Tuesday I attended the Writers' Workshop meeting at our local library. I was thrilled that all together we had eight writers who came, and several of us read aloud our writings and received some helpful feedback. I presented two pieces -- my essay on Writerly Courage that I wrote for Kathy at The 10 Minute Writer and the poem on the Rossetti painting.
The great value of writing groups is in helping one another become better writers. I received a lot of great ideas for expanding and improving the poem, especially after doing a bit of research about Rossetti's painting. You see, La Pia de Tolomei depicts a character from Dante's Divine Comedy, Purgatorio to be precise, who was locked in a castle by her husband while he married a countess. Rossetti used the wife of his fellow Pre-Raphaelite, William Morris, Jane, as his model for the painting. Rossetti was having an affair with Jane Morris at the time, and art critics have surmised that perhaps Rossetti's painting is an indictment against the Morris' marriage that trapped Jane in a loveless marriage.
Now that I know more about Rossetti and his painting, I can fill some details into my poem. The other writers advised me to work more with the middle section of the poem, expanding on La Pia de Tolomei's feelings of being trapped, of being supplanted by another woman, a woman with money and a title. So I'll work on the poem and bring it back next month with changes -- more about her feelings than just a description of the painting and a hint at her feelings as I have the poem written at this point.
I've been very busy the last couple of days with grading essays for my two writing classes at our co-op Class Days, so I'll catch up a few poems to make up for missing a couple of days of composing poems....