As an introduction to the available cultures of poetry writing, we might begin with the creative-writing classroom, since it offers a complex culture in itself. Certainly, the poetry workshop is a place where creativity is embraced and encouraged, but it may also welcome so-called ‘critical elements’ such as the composition of formal prefaces, memorizations, explications of poems, poetry-book reviews, and so forth. The poetry workshop may, in other words, become a site of intense formal training akin to the medical laboratory or music conservatory. With that in mind, we encourage peer reviewers to embrace the complex exercise of reasoning and critical judgement as these apply to creative development. To function effectively, the poetry workshop must become an arena of what Thomas Carlyle called ‘lynx-eyed acuteness’1 of observation. It must become an environment — a culture — in which commentary remains both respectful and penetrating.
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