Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Where I've Been: Harding University

48º ~ bright sun, tiny breezes, a massive drop in temps predicted after today (snow forecast in the northern tier of Arkansas counties for Friday) and through the next week  ...uhm...hello?...spring???

So, this is Spring Break.  A little bit of sleeping in; a lot of catching up on household tasks waylaid by the semester and AWP.  Oh, and yes, there is grading being done as well.  It never stops!

In terms of poetry, yesterday I had the great fortune to read for and talk with Dr. Nick Boone's Poetry Writing class at Harding University in Searcy, AR.  While I love to do readings, combining them with class visits is my absolute favorite thing to do, and Dr. Boone's students did not disappoint.

For the reading, Nick had me email him a file with my poems and as I read, the poems were projected onto the class screen.  This was the first time I'd done something like this and it was interesting.  First off, as I finished each poem, I needed to scroll down to the next one.  I read from printed copies and then leaned over to maneuver the mouse.  What I liked about this was the forced break between poems.  When I read, I definitely try to give each poem its due by pausing after the last line. (Pet Peeve: when at a poetry reading and the poet rushes to say something almost before the last word of the poem is out of her mouth.)  Having to manipulate the computer made a natural break between poems.  Second, as I read, the students were following along on the screen.  This was a bit of a difference for me, as I practice my readings a lot and really try for eye contact with the audience.  Luckily, there were a few students who seemed focused more on me than the screen.  I do see the value of the printed poems as I read, especially for beginning writers of poetry, as they could see linebreaks and stanza breaks and all the white space on the page.  

After I finished reading, I had some craft notes prepared, but I really just love to talk with students and opening up the room to questions worked perfectly.  The students were bright and articulate and asked all the right questions so that I was able to incorporate my craft notes into a more free-flowing discussion.  We talked about poetry being part inspiration and part craft and that the craft comes along from reading a lot and writing a lot.  In particular, I covered sound and form, form in terms of free verse still needing structure and how important linebreaks and stanza breaks can be, even when not using a formal method.

All in all, it was a great day focused on poetry and students, two of my favorite things!


Kathleen said...

Sounds like a wonderful day, and a wonderful way to bring in spring.

Sandy Longhorn said...

It was! Thanks for reading, Kathleen.