In a recent conversation on poetry, one poet told me that community is "absolutely necessary" to her creative process. She was specifically speaking about a close group of a few fellow writers, but since that conversation, I've been mulling over the concept of a poetry "community."
Anyone relatively active in poetry readings in Northeast Ohio would confirm the presence of a poetry "community" in the Cleveland area, and many who attend readings regularly would also probably attest to the importance of such a community. But I'm wondering exactly what aspect (or aspects) of "community" poets feel is necessary to the creative process.
Open mics and regular readings provide an open forum, but doesn't "community" imply more than that. More formalized groups with paid memberships--like the lately departed Lit--provide workshops, classes, and regular publications, but many of those groups seem to be struggling, or like The-Lit, going under. It's easy to blame it on the economy--people don't have the money to pay for writing association memberships right now. But I have to wonder if such groups might also be going under because they're becoming obsolete, no longer meeting the needs of poets in 2012.
So now I'm wondering if you would pay for membership in a poetry organization, and what perks you consider to be worth the price of a paid membership. Or do informal gatherings provide you with everything you feel you need in a creative community for free?
(In the interest of full-disclosure, this isn't purely a point of personal interest. As current VP of the Ohio Poetry Association, I'm genuinely interested in feedback on how we could make formal poetry organizations more relevant to members and potential members and what you, as poets, feel are the needs among NE Ohio writers that are not being met right now.)