Epilogue: Personal Notes to My Fellow Poets

Of course I am aware that this blog is on a public domain, but more importantly, I know that the members of Lytton’s Spring 2018 poetry class read it. And I wanted to recognize the incredible work we all have done this semester which was reflected in our final portfolios. I am so proud of us for the hours and hours spent reading, writing, revising, recasting, and reconsidering ways to write poetry–stretching how we think about form in general and sound in particular. I can say that I’ve learned so much this semester, and I am grateful for the feedback you all have provided for me. Being a part of a community is so important, and my vision and hope for all of us as writers (and authors) is that we are part of not only a visual/word-oriented community but also one in which we care for each other as human beings who are inherently and incredibly valuable. This vision was reflected in earlier blog posts, in my portfolio, which was all about relationships, and in the way I live my life (I hope). I love people, and I love being a part of a community, and I am so grateful for all of you. TC Tolbert and Shara McCallum, while they were here, both impressed upon me the importance of community and helping others, and Lytton Smith did this every week we met together, every time he introduced a visiting poet, and really, every time I saw him.

To conclude this semester, I would like to leave you all personally with a final note, based on your portfolios and what I know about you all as writers. Don’t worry; again, I know this as a public domain, so I won’t be too personal. Email me if you want to get more personal and I will give you my mailing address to be a penpal/postcard buddy (shameless plug–I <3 snail mail).

Bri: I really appreciate the way you tackled topics that were difficult to do with a workshop of people you didn’t know very well (and in ways that were new and interesting). Your use of shorter poetic lines and experimenting with different forms and meter is inspiring to me.

Noah: Thank you for your honesty both on the blog and in class about how much you enjoy being home and how difficult it is to be at Geneseo. If you ever need a friend, I will be at Geneseo for 1 more year also. Because of your presence in class I now know about “There But for Fortune” and Phil Ochs, and the last poem in your portfolio was going to make me cry.

Emma: Your command of sound in your lines is incredible, especially when you write about nature; each word and phrase feels light or heavy or full in my mouth. I particularly notice this mastery in your poems “hush,” and “My Dad Has a Voice.” I am also incredibly impressed by your ability to describe a “Train of Thought” in your poem by that title, when a person has so many interconnecting thoughts based in images but could never convey this through words.

Danielle: I really like the shape that your poem “Inheritance” has taken, with your well-crafted lines now in a form that speaks of change and development–just as family trees shift and develop.  Your poem about identity has also shifted and grown as you’ve thought about your experiences, and I look forward to seeing “A Chameleon’s Disclosure” becoming part of a collection. I’ve also noticed that you use the image of eyes in several of the poems in your portfolio–I really like how this is working and I think it could be a theme to elaborate on and continue as you keep writing. Maybe in your Fiction writing? 😉

Nick: Last night Henry explained to me what ekphrasis means, and now I feel like I have a lens through which to view your work. I didn’t realize that you painted, and I feel like this would be really cool to incorporate even more into the work you’re already doing. I really like the lexicon that your work uses and explores–it feels so specific to you–and I look forward to seeing how you continue to push yourself when it comes to making those vocabulary words into deeper meanings.

Gabrielle E: Your work has a deep emotional resonance to me that came out especially in the way you revised your poems for your portfolio. The poem about stitching and sewing took on a whole new meaning that I was fascinated and grief-stricken by, and the poem “To Get It Over With” felt so well contextualized in time and space and I was amazed by how well it worked to create a sense of simultaneous dread and inevitability in me, the reader.

Joohee: Thank you for sharing your love of the poetry of Chen Chen, whom I was able to look up and appreciate, and see what you mean by humor and sadness being present together. Your poem “ode to touch” is at once quietly intimate as well as foreboding, yet also reassuring. To create so many emotions in the space of one poem is difficult and a great achievement. Also, we both titled poems in our portfolios as “Fool’s Gold,” which I thought provides for an interesting connection.

Megan: I really appreciate how you have overtly recognized the influence that even one person that we care about can have on the poems we write and how we write them. I especially appreciate the fourth poem in your portfolio, which I thought was clever in its use of puns and recasting commonly-used phrases to recreate a new type of meaning.

Julia: Thank you for commenting on my poems this semester with such clarity and diligence towards trying to understand my work. I really enjoy reading the poem “My Momma Always Told Me” for its intimacy and childhood apprehension, how you use apoptosis to explore a topic that many people think about, and for the fact that you are coming to take ownership of your words as well as being proud of them.

Natalie: I know you like unsettling people, so I don’t hesitate when saying that you accomplished that with me this semester. Bringing up the biological understanding that electrons don’t really touch, even though loved ones can feel each other, is a distinction that I’m still working through. Additionally, I really can sense your voice emerging and becoming something that speaks between your poems, and I’m excited that you’re not limiting yourself to left-justified form.

Henry: I often experience something similar to you, in having a very specific experience that is hard to translate to others. I think, though, that your work has developed a lot this semester; and if I’m not being too presumptuous in supposing, I sense that I began to understand a tiny aspect of your speaker’s more deeper-running sensations in poems like “The versatility of plaintiveness,” “Apex Anxiety” and “Meteor Man.” Great work on revising and writing the lines-between-the-lines into your poems.

Rachel: I was amazed at the way you used animals this semester to convey such stark images; some of your lines, such as “I am Dog” and “shark teeth      glinting” are so resonant to me that I wonder how you come up with them. It’s illuminating, then, to find out that you are interested in how humans connect to nature; this seems to be a very important aspect of your writing that informs it well.

Gab B: It has been really great to get to know you better this semester and connect over our love of (and interesting habits of) food. Your poem reminds me a lot of Wallace Stevens’ poetry, in that he has many lines which resonate and I remember later. I really like the lines about clouds in your most recent poem I read, as well as considering a yarnball of veins (if I remember correctly). Fascinating images, and I really enjoy them.

Jasmine: I really appreciate how often you mentioned poets that you’re reading when we were in workshop. It makes me want to read more and to ask you for a whole list of poetry books to check out (actually, message me tho). I will also not quickly forget watching Hoodwinked at my house and being like this is so meta…In all seriousness, your work is really thoughtful and I admire your prioritization of rigor and finality in what you do.

Grace: Thank you so much for lending me your poetry books so I can read more poets, and for being interested in disability studies and poetics. Your work shows how the most beautiful words can be written from a deep place of grief, and I think your lexicon of images and sounds is bringing something new to this discussion on how humans grieve and process their grief.

Lytton: Thank you so much, Lytton, for reading our work so closely and commenting on it to help us improve. You’ve shown a great example of what it means to appreciate other poets’ work and respond to them as we write our own poems. I look forward to working with you again next semester. Thank you for everything.

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