As my friend and I navigate the streets of seaside beside cottages in the gathering dusk, noting the cats and the wooden seagulls perched atop the posts, we are discussing our pronounced feelings of inadequacy. Since we are coming back from a reading given by graduating students, we feel as if our hopelessness is justified. Still, as we navigate the boardwalk by the river and take note of the quavering reflections of streetlights and headlights, I can't help but privately wonder what sort of niche I'm going to be able to find to write about. Last semester and this each and every one of the graduate readings I attended was centered around some form of personal tragedy the poet had managed to conquer through his or her writing. And darn it if I didn't come from a wonderful, stable home with a teriffic, loving family with no divorces, no druggies, and no 1 a.m. phone calls regarding life threatening car accidents. Thanks a lot, guys.
I'm just kidding. It's not like I wanted those things, I'm just wandering along trying to discover still what it is that draws me to writing. Stephen Dobyns says that a poet writes because of an emotional connection to something he or she sees. The way to flesh out what that feeling is, we as poets write about it and, in turn, it teaches us. And even though my work is coming along, I have yet to really manage to capture the things I am passionate about in my writing. I am certain that the amazing faculty and students I work alongside in this program will provide the solution, and I'll be able to read this in two years and laugh and roll my eyes at myself. But for the last several months, and indeed the last couple of years, it has been on my mind.
On a lighter note: The craft talks today were fantastic and quite witty. We were all laughing pretty hard most of the time. It was really fun! And, of course, they managed to address so many interesting things which, this time, I'm saving for my residency reviews. Don't worry, I'll get some highlights on here. I'd do it now, but I'm sort of falling asleep sitting up and I'm supposed to head out to the faculty reading in about forty minutes. Not that there isn't enough time, I just don't want to drag out my notebook at the moment and find them. Lazy me!
Today was also the first day of workshops. We started off with Peter Sears. The process I had been expecting and which I had prepared for is, apparently, not what we will be doing. Rather than offering the writer editing comments, we will be looking at the mechanics, structure, implementation of ideas, and other elements of craft which make up the poem. I'm used to offering editing comments to writers, so I was completely thrown off balance and scrambling to collect myself and offer helpful suggestions to the writer. It's a challenge, but I'm excited for it. These are definitely things I need to learn.
Tonight is another faculty reading. Ellen Bass, Debra Gwartney, and Ben Percy are reading tonight. It should be pretty fantastic. All three of them are amazing writers. After that is the student reading. Hopefully it only lasts an hour. I love hearing the other students read, but I am so tired! Lots of us are dragging a bit already. I figure if I could get to bed before midnight I might be alive during the day, but I have not had a chance to put that into practice since the night before I got on the train to come here. Well, it's an adventure, and it's a darn good one.
See you all soon,