A year ago I was teaching high school seniors about poetry. I had recently graduated from college and let me tell you I was scared to death of poetry. I had never written it (except of course maybe in high school as a lame sauce assignment).I didn’t understand it despite how hard I tried. The fear had taken over and I had basically ignored the existance of poetry. That’s right, the English major ignored poetry.
Well, when it came time to teach my seniors I realized it was time to face my fear. I wasn’t about to destroyed by some sonnet. So I worked hard and my students worked hard and you know what? Together as a team I think we conquered poetry. My students too were afraid, as I had once been at their age but we busted ass together and I would say a good sixty-five percent of them got over their fear. They were writing beautiful essays about meaning and symbolism and form and it was great! I thought…
Now here I am a grad student studying creative writing and I thought my poetry fear was over. Oh no, instead it has come back and bitten me square in the behind. I’m currently taking a poetry workshop and today I have to submit my first poem. Let me tell how much I’m freaking out…a lot, tons, Oh MY GOD!!
I had a weird incident about a month ago where I had had the best run of my life and decided I would write a poem about it. What? I know for someone who is definitely a prose person I was surprised, but I wrote a poem. Is it any good? Heck if I know, but nevertheless there it is saved on my computer and I’ve done some revision and even wrote another poem the other day but I have this horrible fear (and I think this is the real fear) that I’m going to turn poems into my workshop and they will be so badly received. Or worse they will suck.
I’ve been studying literature and writing for a while now and you know I still can’t decided what makes a poem good. I taught the important people in poetry (Wordsworth, Dickinson, Keats, Browning, Plath etc…) but you know what? I couldn’t tell why those poems were good.
So today I go into my workshop with my copies for everyone and send my work out. I guess that’s what this whole grad school thing is about as well, facing that fear of “you suck and aren’t talented, maybe you should go work the projector at the movie theater.” So I guess come time for class my mantra will be, “here goes nothin’!”