I know teachers who teach the same poems, and use the same assignments, year after year. I’ve learned from these teachers, and occasionally envied their enduring commitment to a few, carefully chosen texts, in which they are deeply fluent.
And yet I also resist this way of working myself, mainly because I am happiest and most energized when I teach to my own interests, which continue to evolve as I uncover and pursue new areas of inquiry in my personal creative work.
Furthermore, in order to balance the years of reading so many more male writers, than female, much less poets of color—the outcome of having mainly white male teachers during my formative years—I am actively trying to give myself a broader education, and this translates into what I want to teach, which continues to place me in the position of writing new curricula.
For the last ten years I’ve shared what I’ve found during these reading excursions through my workshops, but especially my online 21 Day Poetry Challenge, which provides four opportunities each year for me to share my current enthusiasms, edges and questions. If I’m learning and writing alongside my students, I believe they will perceive my presence in a helpful way, as together we birth new work within a concentrated period of time.
Time again, writers tell that they feel so much more focused and engaged than when they write on their own, because the frisson of our collective effort empowers all of us, no matter how far apart we may live geographically. (more…)