Sunday, June 12, 2011

Poetry - no secret decoder ring required.

As I sit here at my kitchen table, looking out at the riot of greens that is my front yard and the deep brown creek just beyond, listening to my children breathing on the baby monitor, it occurs to me again that I am  one lucky woman.  I just finished my second, ten day long, MFA creative writing residency with Converse College.  While I was gone, my husband's parents and my mom took care of our kids while D was at work.  They ferried the children back and forth to school, fed them, clothed them, loved them.  D was a single dad at night, bathing, cleaning, readying, feeding, and again, loving.  All of this so I could fulfill one of my favorite dreams - becoming a writer.  I am so thankful.

Residency was a wonderful experience filled with great writers, lectures, readings, and sessions with friends on the covered porch of our dorm.  Dorms, by the way, ain't what they used to be:  an elevator for a three story building; a full kitchen with stove, microwave, full size refrigerator; one bathroom for only two people.  I am finding it a little difficult to process everything at the moment, so I will just mention one person today, and I'll elaborate on the others in later posts. 

Many people do not like poetry.  Their experiences with it in junior high and high school were enough to put them off from it for the rest of their lives.  I hear this from my students almost every semester.  Stories of feeling stupid, feeling like a failure, because they could not grasp the ONE concept that the teacher felt was conveyed in the poem.  Poetry was a secret language that required a decoder ring not just anyone could buy.  If this sounds like you or someone you know, I recommend that you check out the poetry of Suzanne Cleary.  This poet's reading had us in tears...from laughing so hard.  I won't give too many specific details, but the title of the first poem she read is "Sausage Candle."  Yep.

Poetry can be fun.  It can also be intense, quiet, informative, moving, long, short, about beautiful things, and about the ugliest things in the world.  Most importantly, it is about language; it is about words and how we use them to communicate with each other.  Through Converse, I am falling in love with poetry once again.


  1. "Stories of feeling stupid, feeling like a failure, because they could not grasp the ONE concept that the teacher felt was conveyed in the poem."--me in college. I remember the class, the teacher and the poem.

    But, I'm slipping to the dark side. ;-). I've ordered three books from Amazon by poets I've been exposed to at Converse. :-0.

  2. Nothing wrong with a little bit of the dark side. : ) Which books did you order?

  3. Cameo by Melissa Dickson Blackburn, Trick Pear by Suzanne Cleary, and Ka-Ching by Denise Duhamel.