As I continue to get feedback from my motley crew of readers, I'm thrilled with their honest, probing assessments and their refusal to let me get away with any laziness. So far each of them has pointed out something I hadn't noticed or acknowledged before, not just in the poems themselves but in my fundamental approach to writing as well. That's a great thing, and I can't thank them enough for their time and insights.
This virtual workshop also has the interesting effect of disaggregating everyone's responses. In a typical writing workshop, it's hard to avoid the urge to arrive at some consensus about whatever is being discussed, which means that the participants may unconsciously censor any comments that run counter to the direction of the group's collective judgment or emphasize those that align with it. That's just human nature. However, my readers are all responding privately via email, so I get their undiluted opinions, and it's fascinating to see how various facets of the poems stand out to each of them differently.