Category: teaching

  • Oh, February. Oh, amygdala.

    I realized this morning that I’ve been concentrating with clenched-body intensity on my mother’s and my daughter’s needs for vaccine appointments–my mother is 81 and immune-challenged, my daughter is a pre-school teacher–as if my constant vigilance was necessary to help them rise to the top of the list. That’s magical thinking, obviously, except that it […]

  • Haunted and weird poetry: a lesson plan

    My visiting writer gig at Randolph College started yesterday. As the Pearl S. Buck Writer in Residence (virtually), I’m teaching a 4-session workshop each Thursday night in February, 7-9pm. There are only 4 members, all advanced poetry students, so it’s a pretty nice gig. The topic is “Haunted and Weird,” since the organizer told me […]

  • A Very Good Anti-Best List

    It’s exasperating when people refer to a work of art as “great” as if that were an objective pronouncement. Great for what? The idea that there could be stable, neutral criteria by which literature could be judged more or less worthy is at best nonsensical. In practice, it’s often a way for powerful people to […]

  • December cadralor

    I found a new poetic form this week through Dave Bonta’s always excellent Poetry Blog Digest: the cadralor. JJS quotes a definition in the post “The good, the bad, and the ugly”: “The cadralor is a poem of 5 unrelated, numbered stanzaic images, each of which can stand alone as a poem, is fewer than […]

  • Sonnet prompts from #SonnetsfromtheAmerican

    Octave and sestet: my ridiculously precarious Zoom setup for delivering a paper at the Sonnets from the American Symposium, and then my home symposium-delivery system. Presenting on short-lined sonnets in a piece called “Partial Visibility,” I edited my messy desk out of the virtual window, throwing the focus instead on the bookcases behind me–so much […]

  • “I live in language on land they left”

    Some troll tweeted at me the other day that since I seem not to like Lexington, Virginia, I should just leave. He styled himself as a lover of the Shire who’s not ashamed of being a hobbit. He even used Elijah Wood as Frodo for his profile picture. Good to know hobbit-hood is white supremacist […]

  • Dreaming

    Deferred Action   Look at the mountain, find my boots, abandon walls, look at the mountain. It’s all I do. The president tweets DACA is dead while the magnolia publishes other news: the future will be pink. Whom should I listen to? Beets for lunch. Do not think of my father, who loved them, as […]

  • It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall

    …The dark threw its patches down upon me also, Walt Whitman wrote in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” Nearly as often as he reflects on his own tingling senses, Whitman, it turns out, writes about distance and solitude, sometimes expressing pain about it and reaching for touch across impossible gaps. “It avails not, time nor place–distance avails […]

  • Hope, ambition, and other tricky green things

    “Let him who is without my poems get assassinated!” Walt Whitman wrote, when the self-published 1855 Leaves of Grass didn’t make much of a splash, despite the three glowing reviews Whitman himself wrote and published anonymously. I’m reading him for a 4-week, all-remote Whitman and Dickinson seminar I’m teaching right now, and bonus: it helps […]

  • Virtual Salon #4 with Elizabeth Hazen

    We’ve been called so many things that we are not, we startle at the sound of our own names. -Elizabeth Hazen, from “Devices” I’ll be teaching a virtual Whitman and Dickinson course in our May term, and because it may be pass/ fail only, it’s especially urgent to come up with assignments my undergraduates will […]