Thursday, August 22, 2013
Dear readers...I have been on a rocky little journey but it is time to get busy with my blog once again and share the marvelous discoveries I encounter as I teach and clarify what I believe about poetry...and life.
This summer I have been teaching two short courses at the Downtown Writers Center that have been joyous in the student participation and the conversations around the table. The first 4-week class was "Why Is This a Poem?" The course was at the special request of a wonderful regular of our classes and he kicked it all off with a packet of poems he had come across in his reading. Then I found all sorts of poems that would make us challenge our own suppositions about the building blocks of a poem, starting in the early 20th century through very current poets. We came to the conclusion that the most significant factor of whether or not a piece is a poem was that the poet declared it.
There is no limit of possibilities but one thing I truly believe: there is nothing I can do as a poet that will change the course of literature in general or poetry, specifically. Everything that could possibly do that has already been done, by poets such as Basho, or Whitman, or Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Langston Hughes, e.e. cummings, Anne Waldman, and countless other innovators.
What I can do is always strive to listen to the poems that ask me to bring them to the page and do my very best to honor them with craft and intention. I can attempt to give every poem the time and consideration it requires to achieve its fullest potential. I can work at not rushing a poem beyond its natural maturation. And I can encourage my students to do the same.
The second class I have been teaching is "Cycles and Series." This was the result of an urge to look with students at their bodies of work and recognize the patterns, habits, obsessions, and trends that are present, whether we intend them or not. I will be sharing thoughts from this class over the next couple of weeks and I am intending to develop the course into an on-line opportunity.
So often we are so concerned with the single page before us and the black scrawls scarred into it. We look at the page and quietly say, "I love you so much...you are so good..." or we shiver with how we feel we have failed the poem, which is simply an opportunity to try a different approach. We frequently do not think in terms of the relationships they set up of their own volition. There is a surprise hiding in those files. Go look...you will possibly have reason to do the what I lovingly refer to as the poet's happy dance.
I will write again soon with more. In the meantime, you can also follow me on Twitter: @gappoet and look for little thoughts under the hashtags of #poetshappydance and #invisiblereaderbehindthewords.