Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Post MFA Residency Report

I spent 11/13 through 11/23 at the MFA residency for Spalding University in Louisville. It's been a stressful time with work piling up at the library and the impending move and due dates for graduate classes, but I had a wonderful, wonderful time. As much as I love being a librarian, it was a lovely chance to get into an artist headspace and pretend I was a real, live poet for an extended period. (Not that I'm not a poet, but for a living, eating and breathing the work and the lectures and the teaching.)

Residency was interesting and productive for me, though I question some of the choices that were made this round. Spalding had Patricia Gaines in with her assemblage "Strange Beauty - Blind Genius." (The pdf of the news release is available here.) She was patently unprepared for her presentation, which was disappointing. The graduating student lectures and readings were wonderful, the faculty were warm and helpful, and workshop was excellent this go-round. I got (and, I hope, gave) a lot of great input and suggestions for some pieces I had stalled out on and wanted to salvage, and it was simply a good group with good chemistry and tact, but a willingness to take up the difficult areas of work.

I did a great deal of writing this residency, which I usually don't have time to do. In fact, I've started two new collections, and have each of them about half done. This is great, given that I have to have a whole new book by October 2009, since I won't be able to use God in my Throat for my creative thesis since (hopefully) it will be published by then. And so, in addition to the in-progress collection Gone Things, I'm now also working on Arguments Against Sleep and A Convocation of Goddesses. Convocation was an idea I had quite some time ago but never really made a start with, and Arguments cropped up as an idea after a workshop session. Each of those three titles currently has about 20-25 poems in it, which is not terribly shabby. I prefer to have multiple projects going at once, so if I'm not in the mood to write in one vein, I can move to another. Here's to hoping they turn into something people want.

Finally, a note on the extended critical essay, which comes due for me on 12/11. It's our MFA program's concession to scholarly critical work, but shorter than a regular MA thesis, as it's only to be about 30 pages. The happy news: mine is about half-done, and I know quite a few folks who haven't started theirs. The not-so-happy news is, well, having to finish it. I really should have written it in its entirety earlier, but things have snowballed lately. All in good time, I have until the 11th.

Anyway, it's good to be back on track with writing, and good to be back in Chattanooga. I love the Brown Hotel and my MFA peeps, but I'm a hermit at heart, and I missed being able to crawl away for some solitude.

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