Tuesday, September 8, 2009

first day, squinty eyes

I have that through-a-blender feeling of a long day well spent: I can tell my internship is going to be an actual learning experience for me, my class went smoothly despite the boring-the-snot-out-of-you aspect of syllabus day, and I had forgotten how nice it is to be in the company of my peers in thesis seminar (and out for a beer at the eclectically decorated Kitty Kat Club after).

The way our seminar, as run by poet and essayist Ray Gonzalez, works is this: third years bring in those bricks that are their manuscripts, and second years bring in collections of five poems at a time to be looked at. The result is a bit of terror on behalf of those second years, who somehow have to cobble together a draft that won't be entirely shameful in 365 days.

Ray, lover of lists, brought in some thoughts on manuscripts, professing his own view of the manuscript as a single poem made up of a collection of poems. We spoke of how the act of reading an entire book of poems can result in a satisfactory feeling, but when asked to select one or two gems to include, say, in a course packet for a poetry workshop, we might be at a loss. Carolyn Forche, who was my mentor a number of years ago, advised me to--read three books of poetry a week; every season study a new poet thoroughly; and read a book of poems in a single sitting. I haven't been faithful to this formula; perhaps this is the semester to make an attempt.

But instead of seasonal poets, I will have monthly poets--I am taking an independent study with Michael Dennis Browne where I will study the canonical American poets Emily Dickinson, Edna St Vincent Millay, and Elizabeth Bishop. We have our first meeting on Thursday where we will construct some sort of game plan that will allow my acquisition of credits for said literary exploration.


Jessie Carty said...

i have a hard time reading a book of poetry in one sitting. i love my poetry but i get into poetry overload!

Meryl said...

yes... that advice is so good, but oh-so-hard-to-follow!