3.23.2007

went over to Josh Corey's blog today after a tour that included Micael Farrell's reviews multiblog for Austrlian poetry

found these by Kasey that -- this is an outgrowth of some thinking that's he's been thinking since prior to AWP Chicago about sufficiency and decent verse and teaching creative writing

I haven't finished reading Joshua's comments, or gone back to Kasey's or -- I guess -- Reginald Sheperd's (sp?) but since To Delite and Instruct covers some of this ground, and since I'm supposed to be applying for jobs while looking at open houses AND refinishing the solarium floor and working on Maryrose's book and a couple of websites for me and circulating books for review -- you get the idea --

some of these applications include sending old syllabi of mine, many of which are up on this blog

it occurs to me that it might be good to take a halfway decent painting MFA set of soursework and syllabi and translate to writing, because Kasey's comments seem to be cited in a teaching -- a pedagogy -- which is based in an MA / MFA dual, or a PhD creative writing (his is in lit, as is the one Corey's working on)

1. Some degree of grounding in various historical and intellectual contexts for the production and reception of poetry

this is really nice, but no coursework in an MFA program that I undertook covered this at all, and this asks the question, what types of literary study are relavant to those in art workshops? for very small programs, and with the multitude of programs, one would hope that class size is diminishing, it seems more ppropriate that this sort of study is best undertaken as a very small tutorial with 1-4 students who are pursuing like work


2. Some degree of immersion in contemporary poetic theory, as well as relevant political and philosophical studies

I think this is a good idea, with the translation of a workshop into more of a crit -- i.e., it then behooves everyone to have some real grounding in critical theory beyond reading some eagleton book

3. Some degree of engagement with the social and communal aspects of the poetic life, especially insofar as this involves stepping out of the institutional framework and looking critically at what it means to be within it in the first place, and what it means for other writers to be outside it

this is pretty much the case, except in very large public undergraduate institutions, and even there, the best students are doing something similar, there re hrdly any programs without student magazines and reding series, and the best students are always out in the community or have some from out in the community anyway

4. Some degree of consideration of what lies beyond "craft" as defined above: under what conditions might vagueness be considered a "style" worth taking seriously? when do the protocols of "precision, concision, and avoidance of cliché" fall short, and what might be the value of deliberate unwieldiness, ugliness, or banality in certain contexts? and what else is out there?

I think this is the heart of Kasey's concern, and I wonder how well the anxiety about craft (and sufficiency, goodness, etc.) is founded in the experience within writing programs; formal craft classes available are never enough to give the sort of grounding one would need to approach writing a book at a high level of craft in traditional form, yet there is a great deal of anxiety about teaching craft, and learning it, especially among students who've read little 20th century poetry;

there's no preventing the perverted versions of what lineage x poetry or lineage y poetry or even a pantoum is as communicated by second rate teachers to similarly uncomprehending -- and frankly uninterested -- students -- but the problem here is not that the qualifications, the work, the sample courses, the syllabi, or even the accomplishments of select former students are not telling, or showing; the avoidance of cliche is a pedagogical cliche, after all, as is the avoidance of ambiguity of grammatical and poetical types --

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