Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pocket poems & mulling over a grad school program

National Poetry Month celebrations continue all over the place. Today is Poem in Your Pocket day.

I'm carrying two poems today, one in my left back pocket (the Jane Kenyon), one in my right (the Naomi Nye):


In haste one evening while making dinner
I threw away a potato that was spoiled
on one end. The rest would have been

redeemable. In the yellow garbage pail
it became the consort of coffee grounds,
banana skins, carrot peelings.
I pitched it onto the compost
where steaming scraps and leaves
return, like bodies over time, to earth.

When I flipped the fetid layers with a hay
fork to air the pile, the potato turned up
unfailingly, as if to revile me –

looking plumper, firmer, resurrected
instead of disassembling. It seemed to grow
until I might have made shepherd’s pie
for a whole hamlet, people who pass the day
dropping trees, pumping gas, pinning
hand-me-down clothes on the line.

Jane Kenyon


If you place a fern
under a stone
the next day it will be
nearly invisible
as if the stone has
swallowed it.

If you tuck the name of a loved one
under your tongue too long
without speaking it
it becomes blood
the little sucked in breath of air
hiding everywhere
beneath your words.

No one sees
the fuel that feeds you.

Naomi Shihab Nye
(from Fuel, BOA Editions Ltd., 1998)


Yesterday evening, I limped through a conference call with the director and the admissions counselor for Goddard College's master of arts in individualized studies. I've been considering an emphasis in Transformative Language Arts, one of several possible concentrations. I think eight of us, maybe nine, participated. I did ask a question that I've had since I first discovered this program. I already knew the answer it turns out. I'm drawn to this program, but I don't think I belong there, not yet, maybe not ever, but damn, there's just something about the place and the people who work/teach there.

Ruth Farmer is the program director, and she spoke to us about the residencies, shared some projects current students and alumni have produced (produced is the wrong word), answered questions. She has the most beautiful speaking voice, and I fell in love with her instantly.

I know what I want to do (sort of), but I don't know what I want to study. Three or four of the people participating seemed already to be working on projects and were looking for a program that would allow them to continue or expand or shift what they were doing while also getting that degree. They seemed so academic.

I'm so not academic.

I've been out of school for decades. I don't know how to research in the academic sense. I have no idea what theories I would be examining. Honestly, I don't really know what that means. (Epistemology is a beautiful word, and I do know what it means, but not what it means to me in connection to my life, to poetry, to my child, to our future, to ... whatever. Epistemology is a word Ruth Farmer spoke last night, a word I've read in so many of the posts connected with Goddard students, professors, graduates. Knowledge. I have so little, well, when it comes to academics. Life knowledge? Eh. I have what I have, and it's not like anyone else's knowledge.)

Must think.

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