I Survived the First Semester of my MFA

drtmntbvoaelbalHey 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.

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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! 🙂

Noor Hindi

New Publication / What I’ve Been Reading

23231619_10210892534572828_4487469631888797034_nHi friends!

On the left is a photo of my friend Erin and I at the 2017 Winter Wheat Conference at Bowling Green State University. Huge shout out and THANK YOU to the Winter Wheat folks for putting on this amazing conference. We drove up there yesterday from Akron. I was happy to browse the book fair and attend two workshops, one about Sestinas and one about Writing Poetry in Turbulent Times. Guest reader Mary E. Weems’ presentation was beautiful and haunting. It’s so important to have conferences like Winter Wheat because they give you an opportunity to meet other writers and be part of  the literary community in a meaningful way.

I’m glad it’s finally November. I can’t believe the semester is almost over, time is flying by! Last Thursday, Flock Literary Journal posted the audio feature for my poem, “Why is Your Grandmother’s Name Jihad.” If you have a minute, you can check that out here. Be sure to purchase Flock’s migration issue. It’s stunning!

I’ve been keeping busy lately with lots of reading and writing. Here’s some collections I’ve been reading lately:

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There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce, Morgan Parker

Calling a Wolf a Wolf, Kaveh Akbar

Olio, Tyehimba Jess

Whereas, Layli Long Soldier

Night Sky With Exit Wounds, Ocean Vuong

Look, Solmaz Sharif

Sleeping with the Dictionary, Harryette Mullen

I’ve also been enjoying Fasting for Ramadan by Kazim Ali

As always, thanks for reading! Here’s to surviving the end of the semester 🙂

~ Noor

Happy October!

22090130_10210638523502710_3410991014997333955_nOctober is (finally) here and I’m so grateful for the cooler weather in Akron, Ohio! Lately, I’ve been (happily) busy with writing poems for my classes and reading as much poetry as possible. I’m loving the NEOMFA program so far! Having time carved out to spend with poetry has been super refreshing and being around a community of writers helps keep me inspired.

Just this past Friday I had the chance to see Abraham Smith (Ashagalomancy, Action Books) and Hayan Charara (Something Sinister, Carnegie Mellon) read in Cleveland. I was happy to see Kazim Ali at the reading too and I was able to sit down with him afterwords and pick his brain. I rattled off about 10 questions in the span of five minutes and I’m so grateful for his kindness and patience with my questions!

I’m glad to kick off the month of October with a new poem up at Frontier Poetry. Publishing with Frontier has been a really great experience and they even took the time so write some nice words about my poem. Although there are no calls for submissions right now, please consider submitting to them when they do open submissions and giving them a shout out on social media! They also have a fabulous line up of poets, so give the journal a read when you have a chance.

I finally subscribed to POETRY Magazine and bought Kaveh Akbar’s new book Calling a Wolf a Wolf the other day. I also recently ordered two books from Kazim Ali including The Far Mosque (Alice James Books) and Fasting for Ramadan (Tupelo Press).

While I wait on those, here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

 

Inappropriate Sleepover, Meg Johnson

Boy with Thorn, Rickey Laurentiis

Something Sinister, Hayan Charara

21765155_10154773222216771_7473109661211328821_nLastly, if you’re close by, I have an upcoming reading with a few really amazing Ohio poets at Rodman Public Library on Saturday, October 21 at 2PM.

Here’s to a productive month of poetry and poems!

Until next time,

~ Noor

Upcoming Publications & Other News . . .

21150457_10210433427095428_4833195018313817147_nI can’t believe we’re already in week three of the semester! I’m not sure how your first semester of an MFA in poetry is supposed to go down, but it’s been crazy wild here in Akron. I’m excited to share some upcoming publications, as my poetry has recently appeared in issue five of Foundry and in Public Pool. I’ve got some poems upcoming in Glass: A Journal of Poetry (Ohio Poets Edition), Frontier Poetry (later this month), and Flock Literary Journal (Issue 19).

Aside from all this madness, I found an artist to design the cover of my upcoming micro-chapbook through Porkbelly Press. This has made this entire project feel so much more real (and terrifying!) as I consider what I want for a cover.

My poetry classes have been great. I was away from poetry workshops and classes for about a year and a half, so it’s been refreshing to dive back into a community of writers and readers.

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

I also just recently read the new issue of BOAAT Journal. The issue was fantastic, and I really enjoyed poems by Katie Condon, Anaïs Duplanand Jayy Dodd. I was sad facing while reading it though because I stopped reading for BOAAT a couple weeks ago to focus on school.

I’m looking forward to attending AWP this year, and just this past Friday I reserved a hotel. Super thrilled about going, and I’m already making a mental list of all the books I’d like to buy there! 🙂

Micro Chapbook Forthcoming from Porkbelly Press!

porkbellylogoHey friends! I’m super excited to announce that I have a micro chapbook forthcoming from Porkbelly Press in 2018! It’ll be titled Diary of a Filthy Woman and I’m thrilled about releasing it into the world soon! I have so much gratitude for Nicci and Ashley for believing in my work, as well as mentor Mary Biddinger and friend Paul Mangus (who edited many of the poems). Three of the poems in the chapbook will be published with Public Pool soon and this will give readers a little taste of what to expect.

Porkbelly is located in Cincinnati, which means a ton to me because it’s close to home (Akron). As far as I know, it’s one of the few presses that publishes micros. I like the idea of a micro chapbook (8-10 poems) because the poems are project based and very specific. It’ll give people a small sampling of my work and what I hope to build on in the next three years through the NEOMFA program. Thanks so much to everyone who’s supported my poetry in the last couple of years ❤