Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Can we call it Autumn yet?

Are we really into the third week of classes?! (For some at least).

That's a lot to wrap my head around. A week ago I probably would've said it's felt like I've been here months already. Now, well, the time seems to be flying.

I've settled into the routine I need to be most productive. Second year students have given me all sorts of great advice--including, the value of time spent away from your writing. How you should never feel guilty for watching a movie or walking around town or anything like that because sometimes, to get the clarity you need for a poem, you need to let your mind go elsewhere for a time. I'm sure most students on here can relate to the anxiety of a program's pressure. More often than not, I write drafts of poems in my head. I may jot down a phrase or image in a notebook, but when I sit down to write I feel like the first draft of my poem is partially written. Here, with workshops every Thursday and new poems due at least biweekly, I don't feel like I can have that creative ease as much anymore. Though, this pressure isn't all bad. Like I said, my routine is certainly more productive.

In my verse class yesterday, we talked about writing and habit. It seemed the consensus was that prosers respond more to routine (ie: writing at 11am every day for at least two hours) versus poets who seem to write more when "inspiration strikes," (oh, cliches). For right now, I'd consider myself somewhere in the middle. If I'm going to write, I need to carve out time to do so. But I also don't use that time the same way everyday. As long as I'm writing, editing, or at the very least reading everyday--I'm doing what I came here to do.

For those of you who have already had workshop--what did you think? How are the workshop structured? First years only? Upper classmen with lower? What kind of pieces are you submitting--anything new written over the summer or something you've had tucked away for a time?

Glad to hear everyone had relatively uneventful move-ins! Sorry my posts have been sans exciting photos thus far. For now, a picture of the German Shepherd puppies that live next door. Holy adorable!! I'll be volunteering at the Bookmarks Book Festival in Winston-Salem this Saturday. Should have some pics to share after that. Billy Collins will be in attendance, too. Always a treat to hear poetry read aloud [:

Happy Hump Day, all! I'm going out to pick up some Pumpkin Spice coffee at the grocers today. I don't care if it's 89 degrees outside, I'm from New England and September = candy apples, pumpkin spice and foliage.


  1. Sounds like you have a good way of looking at things and about using your time during the MFA. It's good to have a plan about that even if you don't always follow it, I think.

    I had a poem workshopped that I wrote this summer. I wrote quite a bit this summer that I'll be workshopping early in this semester. I like this because I have distance from those poems. I plan to submit the new poems I'm writing now (or should be writing now) during the second half of the semester because I'll have a few months distance on them by then. Obviously, distance is very important for me in workshop lol.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement :)

    I wish I could say the same about my writing this summer... in truth, I didn't do nearly as much work as I should have. Hindsight is always 20/20, yes?

    I won't be able to get as much distance on my work as you but nothing like a little fire under the keester to get the blood pumpin', haha!

    Good luck to you!

  3. Gosh, as far as writing every day goes, I'm not sure us prose folk do much better! I'm getting there, though. Funny enough, it's my poetry that forces me to write every day. I'm taking a class called "79 Works" in which we write 79 poems this semester. That's 6 a week. So, though sometimes I can crank out a few in one sitting, it means I'm trying to write daily to spread things out.

    I agree about the distance thing, though. That's the hardest thing for me. Right now, I'm about to sleep on a piece. Unfortunately, I need to finish this draft of it for tomorrow. So I can't take as much time as I normally would. Oh well. Should be fun, though. It's my first assignment in my required Forms of Nonfiction class. I'm excited.

    Good luck to you! Wow, third week? I won't have that pleasure week. Haha. The weeks seem both long and quick nowadays.

  4. Oh my damn! 6 poems a week? What a haul. I think my sixth poem would probably be monosyllabic, haha.

    Good luck in all your classes! Maybe I should create my own poem "bootcamp," even if just for fun.

    I feel you on the difficulty on finding appropriate distance on a work. Though, I have to believe it'll sort itself out in time.

    Happy Friday [:

  5. I think that's the most accurate description of the structure poets need: the freedom to feel able to capture inspiration, as reinforced by a daily diet of reading, writing and revision, where no one thing is necessarily primary, so much as the decision to be ready, and aware.

  6. I think I'm only now, in my second year, making peace with what you observed (or were wisely told) right away: that as long as I'm doing *something* poetic - be it reading, writing, revising, submitting, etc - it's all part of my work. Last year I definitely felt more pressure to write write write. But yeah, congrats on finding that balance!

    As far as my experience with workshop so far: our classes are mixed between first years and older students (we only have a few ppl per genre in each year so it makes sense). We're turning in a poem a week and they're supposed to be new this semester; I've been writing a lot to fill gaps in my thesis so I've got a few things going at any one time and just have to decide what to workshop. I didn't do as much over the summer as I should have either, but I think I'm making up for it this fall.

    Here's to three weeks down!


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