Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Unearthing old treasures

Last Saturday, I took a wonderful 4-hour workshop from poet John Morrison on poetic forms: meter, rhyme, and the classic structures. As you may remember, last winter I took on writing 100 poems between Jan 1 and April 15. I was writing in what is called free verse with uneven line lengths and and no established meter or rhyme scheme. To be honest, I never gave them a thought.

So when I saw John's class was on a Saturday afternoon I had free, I signed up. Curiously, I had forgotten how much I already knew about these matters. I have an advanced degree in French literature and while the details are not exactly the same from French to English, the systems are very similar and I had spent a lot of time doing what is called "scanning" of meter and rhyme in French in those classes decades ago and taught them to my students as well.

And then there was the spring quarter I got asked to teach Intro to Poetry to students in English as a part of my graduate assistant job and I worked with a wonderful book called Sound and Sense, a classic. And I learned the differences in English and taught them to my students. And then I put that away in some place in my mind where it has stayed out of sight for the last 30+ years. And it all came flooding back last Saturday and I had a great time relearning, remembering, and practicing.

Three things stood out for me. One, I hadn't had that kind of intellectual fun and conversation in a long time. It's the kind of conversations that academics could do with each other and don't--the intellectual side of academia is hidden and rather private, trumped in large measure by the political. But apparently writers in gatherings do this a lot. I want more of that.

Second, I realize how much fun this was for me is due in part to my being a One in the Enneagram system. We Ones love order and detail and meter and rhyme scheme is all about that. It's almost made to order for us.

Lastly, I could see clearly how this knowledge and additional practice could serve as a major tool in revision of both my poetry and my prose, something I've gone about rather blindly. I'm excited to do more of this.

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