I told Chrissy that I’d try to post some kind of first-year-in-MFA-wrap-up, so I’m getting around to that! It’s so lovely reading about everyone else’s lives that I’m tempted just to sit idly in the contributing-blogger file and observe, but that’s cheating. So, here are some of the first things that come to mind:
1. I like teaching. This year I taught a fall and a spring section of Beginning Fiction and Poetry Workshop (for sophomores). It was an interesting experience– first off, I didn’t realize most of my students would be from scattered majors, but of course that makes sense. In the fall, I had a lot of art and art history majors, and this semester mostly journalism majors, but there are always a large contingent of business, psychology and sociology students. I guess I hadn’t realized as an undergrad how fortunate that is. I also hadn’t realized how sad teachers get when their students (who are all talented in their own ways and still thrashing around excitingly in their poetic-explorations) fail to turn in work, or turn up for class.
2. Living alone (or mostly alone) is simultaneously good and bad. I thought I would write a lot more in my old-apartment solitude (the 1920s atmosphere still hangs in them), but instead I spent a lot of time surfing the internet and compulsively cleaning (maybe because my apartment complex is falling apart). It occurs to me now that sharing an apartment might have been a better idea, because when someone’s aware of what you do 24/7, you get a lot more done. At least I do. Now I understand why other people write in coffee shops. It shames you into doing something and calling it art. Now this part is relevant– I’m moving in with another June Poet next year! So keep your JunePo’s close at heart.
3. I wish I had read a lot more at Bucknell. I wish I had eaten up everything in the Stadler Center Library. I had so much catching up to do when I arrived in Madison. And not necessarily the super-new things, but the writers who are just old enough for us not to notice them, like Kenneth Koch and Tessa Rumsey. What was I thinking!? There were so many books!
4. Never undertake the 16-hour drive to AWP in a rented PT Cruiser with 4 other people. Don’t try to leave at midnight. You will hit raccoons; you will encounter storms and plagues of locusts in Nebraska. If you make it to Denver alive, you’ll discover your hostel reservations were actually in Boulder; you’ll get smashed in the automatic-closing doors of an electric bus. If you make it home with your $100 of free books, it may have been worth it.