Saturday, October 22, 2005

on ahead

walk. so far behind. in always light of copper spoons. ending slips past my iris-rim. slips in because I let it. slips in because you are so far behind. slips in because the spoon is only a vehicle. why aren’t you. catching me. walk. a casual meander. ending walks in light. my wake is copper light. too far behind. twice removed from orange. the light asleep but on me. finds you already dreaming. what do I do. but shine. too awake to reach you.

A sigh of relief

I was excited to finally meet with my professor who is the missing link to my exam completion. My final list. This particular professor is extremely busy- she was actually carrying on three meetings simultaneously while I was there, and doing so in quite a graceful manner. I was impressed. I also get a kick out of professors who recommend that you read their book- I mean, it only makes sense, really, but she seemed most excited about this prospect as she handed me a tattered but free copy of the latest edition of the book. Hey, it's one less book I have to locate and track down through our useless library.

The list I'm working on with her is more of a quest, really, and I was quite comforted to find that she actually already has my exam question in mind. I'm in search of an intersection point between creative Writing and composition, a way in which composition studies can inform the pedagogical approaches of creative writing teachers. Pretty exciting. She's quite an expert in composition, and I was nervous that she would be resistent to books that she has not read that relate more to Creative Writing than Comp. To my surprise, when she was looking at my rough-drafted list, when she came across books like Wendy Bishop's Released into Language and Lynn Z. Bloom's Composition Studies as a Creative Art she kept saying "more books like this, more books like this" so I was reassured that I have more freedom than I thought I did. She also encouraged me to find the top three Creative Writing Pedagogy books as well as the most up-to-date as possible. I'm having a little bit of trouble with this, so if anyone has any suggestions, I'm wide open. I've come across the following books but have yet to read them: Poets' Perspective: Reading, Writing and Teaching Poetry ed by Charles Duke, Creative Writing and the New Humanities by Paul Dawson (a brand-spankin new book-- I'll be interested to see what it has to say), (re)writing craft: composition, creative writing adn the future of english studies by Tim Mayers (also new this year!) and Creative Writing in America: Theory and Pedagogy ed by J. Moxley. I also came across an upcoming publication which speaks more to teaching poetry as literature than teaching creative writing, but it still looks interesting: Poetry and Pedagogy: The Challenge of the Contemporary b y Joan Retallak and Juliana Spahr. Not out till January, but with that dynamic duo, anything is possible. That's my life. These are the things I get excited about.

I've written very little lately and have been aginizing over a poem I'm trying to write about a wierd experience I once had in New Orleans, but it's just not really happening. I also wrote one kind of sad and depressing prose-type piece which I will post here separately. I was not in the best of moods the other night. Anyway, the collaborative project is full steam ahead, so I guess I shouldn't complain (as Scott pointed out last time I was whining about not writing!). We're doing some really interesting stuff, new directions, etc. We're both really pshyched about it.

So if anyone knows any pivotal and current Creative Writing pedagogy theory, let me know by comment or email me back-door style.

Friday, October 14, 2005

It's amazing

how reading large amounts of text from different realms of the literary world have turned me against my own writing-- not the writing itself but the ACT of writing. I'm unable to refocus my energy from consumption to production, and it's becoming increasingly frustrating. I wonder more and more about the concept of a PhD in Creative Writing and what the real point of such a degree is. For me, thus far, it has allowed me to bide time while I write and read, broadening my knowledge base while also using this knowledge to inform my poetry. Even with the unbelieveable faculty shortage in my department, I've managed so far so good (I think, anyway. . .) mostly because of the other students and our slight but necessary support system. But now as I mull over this process of reading 100 books and interacting with five faculty members, egos intact, it's all pretty much lost on me. On days like today when I have no class, no studying, very little time to really THINK because I'm hanging out with Eliot, I just wonder if it's all worth it in the end. The reality of the situation is that I can't even necessarily get a job with a PhD unless I have a book, so what's the point? Wouldn't I be better off writing all day and pouring my time ito getting my book published than reading Shelly and Keats next to Rosemary Waldrop and Bell Hooks? Can you imagine sitting down to write with this chorus of voices in your head? It gets better- Plato next to Lyn Hejinian and Baudelaire. Walter Banjamin next to Peter Elbow and Adrienne Rich. Stanley Fish next to Longinus and Luce Irigaray. The voices, the voices!

I'm also starting to question the process of "going on the job market." Several of my friends have managed to get jobs without having books, but these are amazingly bright and very well-published people with books on the brink of being discovered. It seems like it would make more sense to have creative writers complete our dissertation (creative) before taking our exams- this way we can be sending our manuscripts out after really working on them our professors and peers, getting as much feedback as possible, and then send it out for the next few years while we study for exams. If all goes well, exams would be done by the time the book gets picked up and THEN it's time to enter the job market.

I suppose I'm getting ahead of myself. Mostly I wish I could write in the face of all this reading-- what an interesting sound that would be. I'm still working on the collaborative project, which is pretty amazing, but somehow that's easier b/c someone else is carrying some of the weight. I guess I'll just keep reading. . .I don't have a whole lot of choice in the matter.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I did it!

Well, I surprised even myself in this marathon. I'm happy to report that I ran the whole thing, no stopping at all, in 3:53:50, well under my 4:00:00 goal. Best of all, I paced myself so well that I really picked up the pace at the end and ran my last 5 miles as my fastest miles, which is pretty unusual in a marathon. I'm really happy with how I did. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I haven't felt in a really long time, and it feels great. Here are some pictures in case you're interested.

I was also surprised by the fact that I didn't like Portland a whole lot. It was very industrial and didn't really have much of a "vibe" to it at all, except for knob hill (spelling?), which is super cute. I had the best hamburger of my life there! That alone was worth the trip.

Now I'm back to the grind and find myself very tired and unmotivated. Hopefully this too shall pass, because now that the marathon is over, it's time to concentrate 100% on studying for exams. From now until April is crunch time.

I was reading Matthew Cooperman's Sacrificial Zinc on the plane- a great read for sure. I knew Matthew when I was at CU and published some of his poems when I was poetry editor of Sniper Logic/ Square One. His first collection is very smooth and readable- it was actually the perfect selection for a four hour airplane ride. I highly recommend it, long flight or not.

I have a meeting with my advisor that I need to prepare for, so that's all for now. Thanks for all the well-wishes, both via email and on the blog. I thought about my cyberfriends a lot during the race and it definitely helped keep me motivated. Thanks for that :)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Slacking but not

I've been bad at posting here, mostly because this semester is so crucial for me in terms of my exams. I've been working as hard as I think I am capable of, but the hardest part of the process is knowing what that new threshold is n ow that I have a little person to completely take care of. I hope I can get through this whole thing. I am not feeling great about it right now.

Speaking of not feeling great about something, I leave tonight for Portland to run the marathon on Sunday. That photograph is a picture of me from the Chicago Marathon exactly two years ago. I felt pretty good about that race, but this time I'm constantly wavering between thinking/knowing I can do this and being convinced that I will have to walk half of it. I had a great conversation with my best friend of 10 years and, using the experience she had a few weeks ago of completing a triathalon, she assurred me that it's not about the race sometimes; it's bigger than that. To risk sounding like a complete cheeseball, I think she's right, especially for me in this situation. I ran a 3:23:44 when I was 22 years old, my best marathon time to date. Now, seven years later and one baby after, I'm aiming for a 4:00:00 (four hours). I have such a hard time re-adjusting my expectations (yes, the exact problem I spoke of in the last paragraph!). Nobody ever taught me this skill. It's the hardest of realities for me, but I feel good about saying that I will be happy with a 4:00:00, so I suppose that's a step in the right direction. I suppose on some level I should celebrate the fact that I ever ran that fast, and that I am still running after more than 15 years in the sport. Wish me luck. I need all the help I can get right now.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

29 is fine

I was on the phone with friends almost all day yesterday, which was great. I felt like a celebrity or something. And when I wasn't on the phone, Eliot was playing with it, which means I actually missed calls, if you can believe it. I guess that day-after-the-birthday phone call is more popular among my friends, especially when your b-day is on a Thursday.

I had a ten-hour flu last night. Very bizarre and not fun, but I feel spiffy now, so whatever. The strangest thing is that I didn't even leave the house yesterday but to walk the dog. . .I'm not sure where it came from. But be aware- it's going around.

t-minus eight days until the marathon. I'm excited to get it over with and not having it hang over my head anymore- what a relief that will be. t-minus six months until I take my exams and one of my faculty members will not even email me back to schedule a meeting. I've been waiting for three weeks now. That list is the least completed-- only has 10 books on it so far. I'm starting to really doubt whether or not I'll be able to pull that one together or not. I wish I knew more teachers. I really got screwed when Michael Anania retired- I took two great classes from him and definitely would have done a list with him if he were still at UIC. But alas. I'm left grasping at straws. Frustration.