Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Poem Tingle

In class this week I assigned my students an in-class poem based on a poem by Mary Oliver ("Gethsemane"). The assignment was to frame a poem with a large religious, cultural, or historical backdrop (most of the students did 9-11) and then choose one small object and begin the poem there.

I usually don't write in class, as I want to be available to students to answer questions, look over drafts, etc. but the all seemed deeply engaged, so I decided to give it a whirl and I was delighted with what I came up with. I normally can't write poems in the middle of the day, much less in class which always has its own pressures and challenges and keeps my critical brain fully engaged. But somehow, it just worked this time. I wrote about Mary's birth experience in having Jesus and focused mostly on the labor itself. I'm not sure where the poem will end up, but it gave me a great idea for my next collection of poems, and a major structural element of them, so I've had that totally great happy writer tingle for the last two days. Has anyone else had that experience--that you've done something you love, or had a breakthrough--and then you walk around for a few days feeling like you're maybe getting it a little bit right? It's like this fabulous drug and I think it's one of the reasons I (and I suspect other writers) do this. Feel pretty good.

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