These days a lot of poets come to poetry through creative writing classes, and many have gained degrees in creative writing. I confess I have never wanted to take part in creative writing classes, and find the idea unattractive. But it is necessary to improve your skills. The workshops run by Back Room Poets are perfect for me, and I have made constant progress as a result of attending them.
My lack of enthusiasm for creative writing classes may stem from the fact that school-days were not the happiest days of my life. So this antipathy towards creative writing classes probably comes from an unhappy formative educational experience. School left me with a dislike of formal education and an equal and opposite joy in finding things out for myself. This coupled with a naturally awkward streak that was always there.
The workshops with their less formal atmosphere (we have a lot of fun along with the serious business of criticism) and the variety of poets present (most of whom are regularly published), make for an enjoyable experience. The fact that there are always new poets joining keeps things fresh and vital.
You are probably wondering by now why I titled this piece A Real Poet. Perhaps you think there is no such thing. Neither do I. It's just that I have heard several good poets who came from the creative writing background say that they find it difficult to find things to write about. I think of a real poet as someone who has to write, to whom it is as instinctual and necessary as breathing, and long since integrated into their being.