Wednesday, June 23, 2010

intro to poetry

In the fall, I am teaching Introduction to Poetry, so I have been test-driving all kinds of books in hopes of finding a perfect fit. This year may be my only year to fill out those book-request forms with books I will actually enjoy reading; when I taught high school, I had little choice as to which texts I would teach, and when I taught the first two years at university, it was a professor who picked for me or it was composition, and really, who can get excited about a comp. textbook (unless it's written by Donald Hall).

Right now I am reading-with-a-pen Richard Hugo's Triggering Town, and though I probably will not opt to assign it (I'm not in love with it), I know I will pull a few moments from it to bring into the classroom. One is the struggle to practice daily writing, something a good friend of mine and I have been trying to do this summer, with limited success. Here is the paragraph that proves others use this analogy too:

Once a spectator said, after Jack Nicklaus had chipped a shot in from a sand trap, "That's pretty lucky." Nicklaus is suppose to have replied, "Right. But I notice the more I practice, the luckier I get." If you write often, perhaps every day, you will stay in shape and will be better able to receive those good poems, which are finally a matter of luck, and get them down. Lucky accidents seldom happen to writers who don't work. You will find that you may rewrite and rewrite a poem and it never seems quite right. Then a much better poem may come rather fast and you wonder why you bothered with all that work on the earlier poem. Actually, the hard work you do on one poem is put in on all poems. The hard work on the first poem is responsible for the sudden ease of the second. If you just sit around waiting for the easy ones, nothing will come. Get to work.
pg. 27


nikkita said...

What books are you thinking about? I'm teaching Craft of Poetry in the Spring and trying to pick my list too.

Molly said...

Hi Nikki! So far, I've been thinking about Frances Mayes' Discovery of Poetry, maybe a Neruda, probably Tender Buttons, also I'll pick a DA Powell as he is coming to campus in the fall, and I'm not sure who else. What about you? Oh, and some bits from Killing Floor by Ai, as she has some phenomenal persona poems and I think that's a fun exercise.