Wednesday, September 2, 2009

1st Workshop + 1st MFA Reading + Meridian

by Jonterri Gadson

Alright, so I had my first poetry workshop on Monday. I had the drama of putting my poem in the wrong spot the week before, but it didn't matter because we didn't end up workshopping. The class was more of an Intro to Greg Orr. So we all went around and introduced ourselves and told the story of how we came to write poetry. This was a great exercise! These people fascinate me!

What I learned was that I need to read, read, read more. All of my heroes are contemporary poets and Greg made the point that poets exist on a family tree and that we should study their descendants. The point that really brought that home was when he mentioned how Sylvia Plath's earlier work was less strong but once she immersed herself in the work of Roethke her writing took off. We read 6 of Roethke poems and the lyricism was so strong! So I may start my exploration of the family tree with him. I'm excited about that because one of the major things I wanted to get out of an MFA program was exposure. Getting it!

He's obviously passionate about poetry and that's a huge comfort. Poetry does not appear to be just his day job so I am interested to see what he'll have to say about my work. I turned in another poem so I may be getting workshopped for the next 2 weeks.

After workshop we went out for drinks/food and I discovered that, oddly, "peach margarita" sounds exactly like "huge margarita". Try it in a sentence! lol
Last night we had our first reading in the UVA MFA Reading Series. A poet and a fiction writer read. I (and 2 other first year poets) have class until 9pm when the readings start so we were about 15 minutes late. It was alright. We hung around for a few hours and had some drinks and I got to meet some fiction people I'd wanted to meet and to talk more with my poetry people. These people totally fascinate me! One of my classmates talked to me about doing a duet poem. Excited about that! Good times.

Oh, the venue is beautiful!

I read on 10/20. Raina said she may show up, so that would be a huge bonus! Anyone else is also welcome if you happen to be near. For those in the DC/VA area, please share your events because I just may be able to come support you!
Oh! I did my first post for Meridian, UVAs literary magazine. Thanks to Keely for commenting! You all should consider submitting your work to Meridian. For real. :)
Okay, so I have yet to establish any type of writing routine here! I can honestly say that 75% of the reasons why are due to my own laziness! I know, I know! So I'm saying this here for accountability. Next week, I WILL be talking about how I found a place to write and how I'm going there every week day. If I don't, feel free to say, "Ummmm JayTee, where's that post about how you are the queen of writing time?"


  1. I'm so jealous of how quickly you're finding a writing community. Everybody around here seems to be largely doing their own thing. Have had a few before class conversations, but haven't been able to socialize in depth with anyone in the program. I'm also impressed that you're reading so soon. Our reading series is apparently on hiatus at the moment. If I want to do a reading I think I'm going to have to start establishing a presence at the local open mikes until someone asks me to be a feature. Know what you mean about the writing routine. Life has been way too chaotic. I'm hoping when I move for the final time this Friday I'll be able to settle down into a schedule. I read a bit of Roethke over the summer for the first time. I think you'll like him. Sounds like a good week!

  2. Peach margarita. That just blew my mind.

  3. It sounds like you have so much going on, with lots of new things opening up. It's quite exciting. :)

  4. I had a professor who described the poets as being part of a "blood-line" and I have always loved how it sounds. The idea of a family tree is a great way to kick-start some reading.

    Oh, and the duet-poem sounds very interesting! Can't wait to hear more about it. Thanks for the encouragement to submit to Meridian. I just need to get writing. Like you, I'm having trouble mapping out some clear, uninterrupted writing time. We'll get there eventually!

    So glad to hear things are going well!

  5. Jonterri: Like Whitney I want to thank you for encouraging us to submit! I'm waiting to hear back from the Mississippi Review poetry contest, then I'll be sending stuff out like crazy!

    Can we/should we make a post just so we can all share the linkies to the submission guides of lit mags we're working on this year?

  6. JayTee, I'm sure you'll be the total queen of writing time, and I look forward to reading all about it!

    All you MFA'ers, I've been following your posts since the site got going, and it's been so interesting to hear all the different experiences you've had so far. Living in the UK, where the MFA isn't really a noticable phenomenon, I'm starting a one-year MA in a couple of weeks, and I've been inspired by you guys to document my own experiences on my blog. ( The course hasn't started yet, but if it's half as exciting as some of your experiences, I'll be really pleased.

    Good luck, everybody.

  7. I'm not making any promises, but maybe I'll try to come down for your 10/20 reading.

  8. @Keely- I'm totally shocked at how much time I've been able to spend with my classmates. People always want to do something after class or other meetings so it's been easy to catch up with them. Maybe you could suggest that people go out for food/drinks after your next workshop. Everyone is probably just waiting for someone else to say something!

    @rachel- fingers crossed for you on the poetry contest. I love the idea of a post with links to all of our lit mags. Gonna put it up now. Thanks!

    @valerie- i checked out your blog and I'm excited to hear about a UK Creative Writing program.

    @keith- it's the oddest thing. it doesn't always work.

    margosita- Thanks for your positivity!

  9. oooh jennifer! that's exactly how Raina worded it! lol

  10. Just thought I'd mention that Robin Becker, who's teaching the poetry workshop I'm in, directed one of my classmates to read Greg Orr today. Small world, eh?

    That's super cool that the MFA reading series is already going on there! I believe ours starts on Sept 25th (it'll be me along with a 1st year fiction writer and a 1st year CNF person. Anyone in central PA is welcome to come!)

  11. i was totally doing a comment and closed my window ARGH!

    i love the idea of poetic genetics so much i think i am going to try and do a blog post on it soon :)

  12. Thanks Jonterri! I'm interested in how the two types of program compare - the MFA format is very unusual over here, and the MA seems pretty unpopular in the US! I've blogged about my (pretty random) thoughts, if anyone here wants to pitch in...? (


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