learning from the masters

as i’ve delved obsessively into manuscript editing this week, i’ve been reading through some of my favorite poetry books, trying to remove the clockface and see how the gears tick together. C.D. Wright, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Sylvia Plath, and Claudia Emerson are a few I’ve focused on, as well as Paper Anniversary, my first poetry professor’s book. i’ve also done some reading through the first book interviews. my professor has one. here . that i found insightful and inspiring, about poetry and the first book.

a quote, talking about his thoughts on poetry writing:

Sometime I sense in my students—and I used to detect it in myself—that they are dissatisfied with their world, that they distrust it and long for more exotic surroundings, cities with name recognition and events that are more compelling and poem-worthy to dress up their days. They haven’t yet fully come to believe that a parking lot in Jackson, Tennessee, where they’ve just slammed the car door and slung a book bag up to their shoulder, where the afternoon light throws the outline of every bumper onto the veiny asphalt in some crazy and rhythmed way, where they’re late and lonely and hungry and not as prepared as they’d like to be, can have anything at all to do with art. The sooner we all get over that the better. ( Bobby Rogers

reading through my manuscript i’ve really felt that. i don’t write about exciting things–hurricanes and abuse and drugs and big cities–i write about washing the dishes and having a baby and going to church with my husband. i really do. and as i’ve been editing, i feel like maybe that isn’t good enough–who wants to read about such simple things? so i am glad to have read this interview this morning. i am so lucky to have studied, right from the beginning, under talented professors who care for and believe in their students, and who have a vision for poetry that i can learn from.

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