How Poets Progress

This was the title of a workshop last January at AWP in Portland and the subtitle of a book by Craig Morgan Teicher. I didn’t go to the workshop. Somehow just the title was enough for me to chew on. Enough to get me moving and thinking in the right direction.

If a poet is going to progress, it’s not enough to simply put in the hours. To show up at the page day after day till you’ve reached mastery. A writer needs not just horizontal growth accumulating through time but also vertical growth.

The work must deepen. But there’s no blueprint for this growth, no guaranteed path.

Just yesterday Jen mentioned that her writing comes in cycles. And last week Melissa shared how handwork is creating space to ponder creatively. I think following these hints and intimations is a part of the essential work we each must do if we are to progress.

I have been putting my hand to William Stafford’s four fold way of writing, trying to linger a bit like Melissa, past the dreams and dailiness that come, waiting for a phrase the carry my jottings closer to a poem. Like Jen, I’ve noticed that these daily ways of coming to the page shift over time and I’m trying to follow that thread.

To see all the posts in the series Listening to My Life :: Homeschooling an MFA in Poetry, click here.