Hey there! Guess what? I’m alive. I haven’t updated my blog for over a month, and for a while there I wasn’t sure that the semester would ever end! But winter break is finally here, which means lots of snow and reading and journaling and (hopefully) sending poems out. For the past week, I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on the first semester of my MFA in poetry. This past fall, I took a workshop class, a Poetry of the Body class, and a practicum class (for teaching English Composition).
Here’s a list of stuff I learned this semester:
- Teaching is terrifying and fun and heartbreaking and shitty and also oddly rewarding? I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. In a lot of ways, I wish someone would have told me that so much of teaching is about failure. There were a lot of days I didn’t feel prepared or remotely qualified. So much of my teaching process this semester was trial and error. I had to be okay with not doing everything perfectly. My students were patient when I stumbled. I tried to be patient when they stumbled. I learned that I couldn’t be everything to everyone. My people pleasing habits flew out the window within the first month because trying to get all of my students to like me was a battle I wasn’t going to win. There were teaching days that felt like a dumpster fire, but then there were days where I loved teaching and my students were really getting it and I felt like I was making a difference. Those days made everything worth it.
- Because I hadn’t taken a workshop class in over a year, I must have forgotten how weird workshopping poems is. You sit in complete silence while everyone talks about you like you’re not in the room. Wtf, lol? While workshopping my poems, I spent the majority of the time a nervous and sweaty mess. Also, everything is funny when I’m nervous, so I kept trying not to break out in laughter in the middle of us discussing a poem I’d written about death. I’m not sure at what point workshopping will become easier, but I hope that comes soon.
- Grad school is hard work. There were weeks I didn’t feel like writing poems and there were a lot of moments I questioned my decision to pursue my MFA. I spent a lot of time writing poems despite feeling shitty about my writing. This forced me to make writing a daily habit and use writing to push past the doubt and fear in my head. I’ve decided that you have to be fucking crazy to be in an MFA program, which is probably why I’m in it.
All of this being said, I feel really grateful to be in the program. My writing is changing and the classes are giving me the structure needed for me to experiment with my poetry and see what happens. I’m meeting a lot of people who are just as insane and weird as I am. Poetry will always feel like home.
This winter break, I’m challenging myself by writing a poem a day. I’m excited to send some work out in a few weeks. I’ll also be doing a ton of reading (book list pictured above). Lastly, I’m putting together the finishing touches of Diary of a Filthy Woman, which will be out next year with Porkbelly Press. Tanya Gonzalez (pictured on the left), a Cleveland-based artist, is designing the cover, and I’m looking forward to that project becoming a reality.
I’ll update NPP again soon! Thanks for reading! 🙂