Poetry is an Antidote to Politics and Punditry
Here’s something I’ve been thinking about, though Adrienne Rich wrote these words all the way back in 2001:
“Our senses are currently whip-driven by a feverish new pace of technological change. The activities that mark us as human, though, don’t begin, exist in, or end by such a calculus. They pulse, fade out, and pulse again in human tissue, human nerves, and in the elemental humus of memory, dreams, and art, where there are no bygone eras. They are in us, they can speak to us, they can teach us if we desire it.”
I found this passage in Christian McEwen’s thoughtful little book: Tortoise Diaries: Daily Meditations on Creativity and Slowing Down. Regular readers of this newsletter know that I admire McEwen’s writing and thinking very much, and have appreciated her literary influence (and wise friendship) in recent years.
I am writing to let you know that there’s just one week left to get the Early Bird rate for my Fall Poetry Apprenticeship Program. I designed this online course to meet the needs of busy people who want to read and study and write in a deep and pleasurable way but don’t have much time, can’t afford to go to grad school or to conferences, and mostly do this sort of thing out of a pure form of love, and because they want to immerse themselves in an act that helps some of that busyness (and even some of life’s nonsense) to recede. Your apprenticeship is with and to the books and poems you admire and read, as much as it is with me, a working writer who has ideas about how to bring poetry into daily life in a real way. In the eight week course do this by:
- Reading poems every week and using them as pathways to our own new work (via assignments)
- Having conversations about the way we work and why, and trouble-shooting things like resistance, self-doubt, stuckness (via private tutorials)
- Thinking about what we want to do with our lives (really . . . it happens internally and is inherent to the process.)
- Stretching the space that poetry occupies so that there’s more of it, and fewer low-grade worries, negative rumination, and noise in our heads (via practice)
This whole P R O C E S S allows the mind to go a little wild. Allows language to arise and crystalize. Allows restoration of the nerves. Allows for softening of self-judgement. Allows your work to be M A D E R E A L. I could go on.
You will leave the Fall session with 8 new poems-in-draft and you will feel good about them (I’ll tell you why). You will have greater comprehension of some of the elements of craft, and more faith that this sort of activity–that poetry itself–has a role to play in your life, and in our changing world.
Poetic activity is a profound tool for personal transformation as well as an antidote to the misuse and abuse of language and ideas that is all too prevalent during election times. We need more poems and more poets and less punditry and politics. Don’t you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section if you like. It’s nice for me to know who’s reading me when I send these notes into the void.
(With thanks to Muireann De Barra for taking this photo of me looking at the Pamet River in West Truro, Cape Cod.)