Friday, January 19, 2007

The Poetry Department of America


What are you reading?

Me? I'm reading Breaking the Alabaster Jar: Conversations with Li-Young Lee, which I'll be writing about here very soon. I'll just say, It's, no--he, is fantastic.

How to be a Poet--

I'm also starting the Anne Sexton biography next week along with her complete poems. I've never really *read* Anne Sexton. I mean I've read the poems you need to read to be an English major, but not much else. Recently, I've had two poets try to steer me away from her. Read Plath, said one.

There are some people, some professors, who do not believe she is a "real" poet. I've heard "she's just a housewife who used poetry as therapy." Do you know who that statement kills the blood flow of my inner housewife? Do you know Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson did not have a MFA and yet, they had the nerve to write poetry? I know I'm a grad student in an MFA program, but I honestly believe an MFA is NOT needed to be a poet. If you *want* to be a poet, a good, strong, wonderful poet, you can be--without the MFA.

Anyway, off soapbox now. Just nothing makes my blood boil more than someone believing that you need to go to college to be a poet. No, you need to read poetry. You need to read everything. You need to write. Write everything. You need to read and read and live and live. Read, write, and revise. That's what makes a poet. Not a piece of paper.
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