As you all know, our class shares a folder via Google Drive, and cached within are our writing exercises, all neatly tucked away in folders labeled with each poet’s name. Of course the point of all this is to share our work, so on some level it’s obvious – any one of you is free to see what I’ve been writing, and vice versa.
Yet I can’t help but feel like I’m snooping when I click on someone else’s folder. I feel weird even saying this, like I’m admitting to leafing through your diaries, even though I’m fairly certain that it’s allowed, and that I’m not the only one (please say I’m not the only one!) doing it.
So yes, I scroll through your weekly poems, see the different ways we interpret the prompts, notice who has more consistent style and whose one-off experiments are vastly different from what they submitted to workshop. At times I want to ask – why didn’t you bring this poem to the class? Did you ever come back to this piece? I want to know if you like the poems I like, or if you just wrote them to write them, to have something to turn in on time. There have been instances when a poem catches my eye, and I like it so much I want to grab the person responsible, and tell them – but many of you I don’t know so well, and we don’t really talk outside of class, so I lose my nerve. I wonder who will mind that I’ve been sticking my nose in things.
I think you all should know that sometimes, if I don’t know what to do with the week’s exercise, I check to see if any of you have done it in a timelier manner than I have, for inspiration. And, in my private poems (more private than those in a digital folder, the kind that live in a red notebook in my bag) I take your line breaks, your themes, images, the occasional, meaty two-or-three word phrase – and I try them on for size, like we do with the poems from the reader.
I don’t post them. But I do wonder how you feel about that.