Thursday, September 29, 2016

Learning my Craft

Back-to-school, autumn, September, new routines have all set in and I wanted to be part of it. I am the mama who makes the lunches, signs the slips and gets us all out the door on time, but I wanted to give myself some back-to-school, too. A friend had recommended a site she uses to take all kinds of university and college-level courses, for free. For the love of learning something new. I love learning new things! Me too! 


I chose to enrol in Modern American Poetry, run out of the University of Philadelphia. I chose it because I have been dusting off my poet's hat and wanted to better understand the tradition, the community to which I belong. It has been a few weeks, and I have been gluttonously lapping up the readings, video lectures, discussion groups and assignments. I have been learning about poets, trends, styles and methods that have significantly deepened my appreciation for my craft. I wanted to learn more about those who have come before me. I am learning so much more about how to write poetry.


I have been tinkering with these different methods, carefully choosing my words, giving each line a second set of applications and meanings, now that I am learning to appreciate this poet's code. It makes me feel so alive and attuned, for so many more moments in my day. 

A walk to school: holding hands with two girls and watching the others run uncomfortably close to the road, my mama hawk eyes focus on the dangers. Then, I notice my focus shifts to the beauty of a flock of geese flying overhead. I make everybody stop, gather close, listen, and look for the flying V in the sky. My brain starts searching through my mental Rolodex for the best imagery adjectives, the most delicious descriptors, trying to commit to words this amazing scene. These are my extra credit assignments. 


A poet breathes in experience and breathes out poetry (Muriel Rukeyser). Succinctly. Condensed. Carefully choosing the very best, few words. Poetry is not prose and I am learning how to craft poems that are not so epic-ballad-form. Not so wordy. Worthy. Today, my homework took Summer and I on a field trip to Petrie Island, where we ran the lengths of the sandy beach, chased seagulls, climbed rocks, waded in shore-lapping waves. My assignment was to gather life, beauty, images, experiences. An eternal, infinite study.


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