In middle school, I found time to read a book every two days over the summers. I started writing poetry around that time, inspired by the unrealistic but nevertheless adorable love stories by Sarah Dessen in particular. In high school, I became close friends with the librarian, and we would routinely organize poetry readings in a local record shop. The back room was used specifically for open mic nights with couches that were sunken in from years of use and posters from every band you can think of. At the time, I wrote mainly for a boy that I thought I was in love with, but in truth, I just idealized him. Just typing all this feels so cliché. The record shop closed within a couple of years, though, and so did our poetry readings. I stopped writing as frequently because I didn’t really have any incentive, and once I moved to Pittsford, I rarely wrote because all my poet friends were in Redlands. 

My freshman year of college I was randomly assigned to Professor Caroline Beltz-Hosek’s Poetry of Place class, and I absolutely loved it. It was where I was introduced to Ilya Kaminsky, and my love for him has blossomed since then. Professor Beltz-Hosek also made us keep a writer’s notebook. This has become one of my main sources of inspiration, so I loved having to do it again when I took the introduction class to creative writing with her a year ago. I have continued to work on this notebook. I have probably a hundred magazines back home that have been cut up to use as material for my notebook. I have decided to attach one of my pages to show my work because I doubt I can explain it enough, but essentially I cut up magazines and glue the cutouts into pages. These pages have a lot of themes, and some pages are definitely darker than others. However, because a lot of my poetry is fiction, my notebook is a great way to outline my poems.

One Reply to “”

  1. Great post, Tanya, and lovely to see the image. (There’s a rich seam of work that combines poetry and collage if you ever want to see your notebook work as more than within the notebook – whether for this class or for other contexts. Happy to talk further and send you in some directions.)

    There’s two aspects of this post that seem particularly intriguing for future directions. One is that idea of getting people together into a space in order to listen to poetry, as you did with the record shop. That’s valuable work – don’t see it as cliche or give up on it. (It could become an internship or Directed Study, or just something for fun over a summer; again, happy to talk about ideas.) The other idea is following Kaminsky’s work. We’re obviously reading him for this class, but it wouldn’t be a bad project to try to read everything he’s written: not just poems, but interviews with him, essays he’s written, etc. Knowing one person’s work inside and out can be a huge mentorship, as we see how they think about poetry and how their ideas evolve. (He also teaches short-course workshops from time to time; keep an eye out!)

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