A few weeks ago, I went to a poetry reading sponsored by Cave Canem (http://www.cavecanempoets.org), a group of which I am a fellow. The members are celebrating 10 years of African American poets and poetry with a new anthology called Gathering Ground. This is some of the best writing being produced by contemporary poets in the U.S. today.
The strength of this group is the camaraderie among poets. For the last 10 years, we have created a community poem by poem, which I think is especially important for black poets, and for poets in general. In addition, there is an annual, weeklong retreat, along with poetry readings, online listservs, and lots of opportunities to collaborate and get information. Many fellows have published books, won contests, received grants and awards, and taken on prominent teaching assignments.
Cave Canem, or "beware of the dog" in Italian, is becoming a known entity among poets. But the remarkable part is that it brought people together and made us better writers. There's something to be said for strength in numbers. I can send a poem to the group via e-mail and instantly get 10 critiques for my work. Or I can find out the current hot topics in the literary world. Cave Canem is there for me whenever I have questions about my literary career.
No matter how large or small, belonging to a group can make a difference in your literary life. If you're blogging, you know exactly what I mean.