I'm in the middle of an eight-week poetry workshop with Kim Addonizio and wondering why I haven't done this more often, maybe once a year. I've found few things more stimulating of my creativity than participating in this fun, low-key (we meet in her living room and share snacks and wine), fascinating, and informative workshop.
Among the exercises we've considered are anaphora, odes, and syntax. Copying the syntax of another poem's line was an exercise I had never heard of and it was really hard. Just understanding syntax is hard for many of us, and copying it with an original idea is tricky. I flunked the syntax but landed a poem I consider worth revising. In fact, all three exercises have given me poems I would work on and send out if I can finish them to my satisfaction. That was a big surprise, as I've never found working to an exercise very inspiring.
Perhaps the atmosphere of collaborative thinking about a poem is stimulating my creativity. Maybe thinking about the successes and falterings in a poem gives rise to strategic ideas. Each week I seem to find better ideas for new work. And I have to admit that being forced (well, not forced, as you don't have to do the exercise and not everyone does) to try new things really jazzes me. I'm going to wind up with a whole new bag of tricks!