First of all: Not only is there another American in this class, but she’s from Silver Spring, which is just 20-30 minutes or so outside of Baltimore. What’re the odds?
I’m so sad that there’s only one more of these classes. I keep reminding myself that this isn’t a 14-week course like at school, and I’ll have to say goodbye to my fellow students just as I’ve learned their names and heard their style.
What I really enjoy about Siobhan’s teaching is that she wants us to tap in to what contemporary poetry is like. The draft we have due tomorrow is a sonnet, and she had us read some sonnets that weren’t traditionally sonnet-y. She’s interested in bringing form to our lives today, and using our specific cultural vocabulary to do it. The first class when we went around the room and introduced ourselves, she also had us share a saying or idiom from our families that had been passed down to us. She says this opens up our personal relationship with language and reveals who we are as people and poets. She is tuned in to how relationships with poetry are different regionally, and perhaps this aspect came to the forefront during class because there are two Americans in the workshop.Yesterday, I made an observation about another student’s very abstract poem, and Siobhan observed that Americans tend to be more tuned in to “elliptical” and “dissociative” poetry, while Irish are more tuned in to lyrical traditions. She is pulling both parties out of their comfort zone, I think, and encouraging us to strike a balance between the two.
I also appreciate that Siobhan takes the time to direct us to writerly resources– poetry essays, archives, and even gives us the names of literary magazines to submit our work to. She gave us her email so we can message her our drafts for a closer read than can be achieved during class time and so she can direct us to an appropriate publisher. It’s great to have a teacher invested in the literary careers of the students. I sent her my drafts last night, and look forward to her feedback, which I’m sure will be extremely helpful.