Free Poetry Workshop  *  Wednesdays at 7 pm  *  Riverside, California

The Workshop has gone virtual; contact director if you wish to join

About the I.E. Poets

The Inland Empire Poets is a community poetry workshop group. We are not affiliated with a college or university, or other organizations. There are no membership fees or requirements.

member poems

If you are a poet serious about improving your craft, then the group can provide you with critical readers who love poetry, understand what it takes to write and submit work to criticism because they are writers themselves, but who are also rigorous and precise in their criticisms and suggestions.

Our group meets every Wednesday (except on holidays or the month of December) beginning at 7 pm and usually meets until 9 pm.

We welcome all types and levels of poets: beginners and veterans, formalist and free verse, experimental and performance.

A Note from the I.E. Poets Founder

The Inland Empire Poets began meeting in February of 1995: 2015 thus marked our 20th year of workshops! Each Wednesday since then, the poets have met to improve their craft. There is discussion of technique and publication, there are announcements of successes and failures, there is a bit of goofing around, but most of all there is workshop. Each poet submits their work to the scrutiny of other poets. It is a difficult thing to see one’s poem out alone in the world, but necessary if one is to improve. Each poet learns from other poets, people who love poetry and understand what it is to read it and write it, whether the poem achieves what the poet had hoped. The critiques can be intense and particular: sometimes minutes will be spent discussing a preposition, praising an image, or evaluating the title. The poet learns how to see a poem as a reader does, not only the ideal reader in the poet’s mind, but the real ones the poem is more likely to find.

The poetry workshop format has been attacked by some who charge it destroys originality and makes all the work coming out of the workshop the same. The variety of poets who participate in our group and the diversity of poetry submitted for critique counter that charge. And the poems that emerge from the process are better, sharper, richer and more fully what they aim to do and be because they have benefitted, to varying degrees, from the workshop.

We are a loose confederation of poets. There are no membership dues, no constitution or bylaws, no officers. Some of the poets in the group have attended the workshop for a decade or two, but we have members who have only found us recently. What holds us together is a dedication to the craft of poetry. And we invite anyone who shares that dedication to join us.

Joel Lamore

Where do the I.E. Poets meet?
The I.E. Poets meet at public locations, often at coffee shops. We try to stay in one location, but circumstances have sometimes required relocation. The group generally meets outdoors (usually in sheltered areas) adjacent to the coffee shop, so during the winter participants should dress warmly (it is Southern California, so it rarely gets too cold to meet outdoors).


Currently, the group meets in the outdoor seating area outside the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in downtown Riverside: 3712 Mission Inn Avenue (between Main and Market Streets.

The group is currently meeting Virtually. Contact Joel Lamore at to get information about joining virtual meetings. Meetings are still 7-9 pm on Wednesdays.

(last updated on 3/2/21)

If you wish to confirm current location of I.E. Poets workshop, or have questions, email:

About the Workshop Format
If you wish to workshop your poem, you must bring 12-14 copies of your poem to hand out. Though it may seem like the critique progresses in an open and unstructured way, it actually has three distinct phases:

The writer reads the poem. After reading, the writer should remain silent during the critique unless asked a direct question for clarification purposes. This policy avoids defensive behavior by the writer, which isn’t productive and chills good critique. The writer will get an opportunity to talk later. Remember, those providing critiques are not out to get you; they are simply providing their honest reactions - a very valuable thing, so don’t squelch it! Also, as author, you have the absolute right to heed or ignore the comments of your peers: it is your poem. The group is simply your window into how different readers will think and feel about your work.

Critique begins. Readers are encouraged not only to supply verbal comments, but written ones as well. Those critiquing should write their name on the work so that the author knows who supplied what written comments if clarification is needed. As readers get experienced and more confident with the workshop atmosphere, comments will flow naturally. Often readers new to the workshop process don’t know where to begin or what kind of comment to make. Here are some suggestions:

Summarize: What does it mean to you? What happened? What’s the meaning? As simple as this sounds, this is very valuable to the writer, especially in critiquing poetry, since the author needs to know if his or her point is getting across. This is a low pressure response for those who are unsure about their ability for more in-depth critique.
Evaluate: What did you like or dislike? And why? Be specific. This can be a comment about a word, phrase, image, metaphor, etc. Readers don’t have to evaluate the poem as a whole; they can focus on small parts if this feels more comfortable.
Mechanics: Often minor mechanical problems (grammar, spelling, punctuation) can be marked on typescript without bringing them up verbally.
If, as a reader, you are confused about something in the poem, don’t ask the writer. See if one of the other readers has a solution. The writer needs to know if his or her work is understandable, and the only way to know that is if the writer doesn’t have to explain. Only very simple direct questions (like the correctness of the pronoun in a line) should be addressed to the writer. Finally, be honest, but supportive.

The writer can now speak, supplying brief clarifications, asking the peers to attend to something that wasn’t discussed, and possibly very briefly discussing intentions.

Open Reading, Time Permitting

The group spends most of its time on workshop, but if someone has brought a poem or two to read, but not have critiqued, we generally make time for a brief reading period. Let the group know you have poems to read at the beginning of the session, and the group director will try to leave time toward the end of the session, or between critiques, for reading.