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Friday, September 24, 2010

Poetry on my Mind

It is now officially Fall, and that means school. Actually,
I've been back in classes for a month. I'm already so busy and
overwhelmed. But I mean that in a good way.

I am taking two classes this semester. Let's talk about ASL
first. I am in ASL v now. My professor is great. So far it's
been smooth sailing and clear skies. No problems at all.

I'm also working two days a week with an ASL assistant. She is
a grad student who happens to be one of my class interpreters.
We meet one-on-one to go over info from the text book and
handouts. We review material that is covered in class and she
helps me prepare for upcoming presentations. If we can ever
get the stupid computer to work, she will also help me "watch"
videos and practice clips from the class DVD.

This has been my first semester working with an ASL assistant.
It has been a wonderful experience so far. Finally...
FINALLY... I have access to all class material. I can study what
I need and be prepared for class and quizzes. This makes a world
of difference.

I like ASL. It's good for me. It's practical. I need to
improve my communication skills. ASL will do that. You could
even say I love ASL. But I'm not in love with it... I'm not
having an affair with ASL.

That brings up the second class I'm taking this semester -
Introduction to Creative Writing. There's no denying the truth.
Writing is my lover. Writing makes my heart throb, my pulse
quicken and brings me up short of breath. It's writing that
soothes my soul. I spend each day with writing and dream about
writing all night long.

I'm taking Introduction to Creative Writing as a way to sample
the field. See if it's really what I want to do. Get a feel for
each genre and pick my direction.

I almost didn't take the class because I knew there would be
focus on poetry. I have never liked poetry. I can't understand
most of it. But I decided to try the class anyway.

Well, we started with poetry. We aren't reading textbooks on how
to write poetry. No rules about rhyming patterns or meters or
how many lines a poem should have.

Instead, we read real poetry. Actual books of poetic art by
actual authors. So far we've read "No Matter How Many Windows"
by Jeanne Bryner and "Jubilee" by Roxane Beth Johnson.

To be honest, I didn't even know this kind of poetry existed.
They are using poems to tell an over all story - to create a
picture of how they lived or what they experienced. I
particular liked Jeanne Bryner's book. She uses poetry to
illustrate four generations of her own family history. Such
strong women in desperate situations who face life with amazing
dignify and determination. I found myself hooked.

Last week, Jeanne Bryner visited my university to talk about her
work and read poems from "No Matter How Many Windows." I had
never been to a poetry reading before. I actually enjoyed it and
I was thrilled to meet and talk with the author. I think I was a
little too star-struck because I couldn't think of anything to
say. I stuttered through some simple questions and cursed
myself for not bringing the book because I could have gotten an
autograph.

At the poetry reading, I also met the director of the MFA
program that I want to enter. That turned out to be a surprise
opportunity. As Bryner said in reply to a question from the
audience, it's all about making connections. I guess I just
made my first connection.

Yesterday, I attended another poetry reading at the university.
This one was called "Celebrating Our Own." The winner's of last
year's poetry contest read some of their work. This included
poems by college and high school students.

I went because I was curious about the prize winning poetry. I
wondered what "amateur" poetry would be like. As it turned out,
it's just as beautiful and hard to understand. Still, I did
enjoy listening to the poetry.

I didn't sleep well last night. I woke up every fifteen minutes
with poetry on my mind. Dark and twisted poems by Jeanne Bryner
and Roxane Beth Johnson. Sad poems by the contest winners.
Uplifting poems by my classmates. And then my own work... sharp
and honest. I write with such vulnerability. It's like a
public display of affection. This love affair reveals my
innermost secrets.

Poetry... poetry... What is going on here? I don't even like
poetry. Or maybe I do.

I know one thing for sure -- I do love to write. I can't hide
it any more. There's no denying what I most love and desire. I
confess:

I want to be a writer.

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