School’s out, and now it’s grading time. The students in my Deeper Poetics class turned in final portfolios last week, which include 5-7 page prefaces outlining their poetics in terms of what we studied (poetry and prose about poetry) throughout the semester. In true procrastinator form, I’ve only read five of the portfolios, but what I’m struck by is how each student took something distinct, and distinctly her/his own, from the class.
Against the backdrop of essays by James Tate and Heather McHugh, one student, Kejt, writes about her Quaker roots, and how during Sunday service, “I sit in the pews with everyone else in stillness, and we wait.” She goes on:
In poetry, the silence is just as important as the words chosen. To wrestle with and engage poetry fully we have to come to grips with our terror of silence, of emptiness, of lack. There are a lot of reasons for this societal fear of not speaking, and my Quaker beliefs compel me sometimes to spend time considering why we’ve built a culture without much room or gratitude for silence. Poetry has to contend with wordlessness, though, has to touch it, caress it, and circumnavigate it.
Wow. Beautiful, huh?
And on revision, Andrew writes:
Much of my stylistic growth, I feel, is attained through increasing the volume of my output, that is to say, by writing more poems. I’ve adapted the revision process to suit my needs according to that acquired knowledge. Thus, revision has become to me not the process of modifying an existing draft of a poem to more clearly articulate its project, but reemploying the elements of a single image or idea in order to produce as many variations of one concept as a I possibly can. The result is a method of revision that reproduces a poem so many different ways they hardly resemble a single source.