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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Of Poetry, Students and Teachers

Like so many writers who teach writing across the United States, my semester is almost over.

And, I suppose, I could go on quite a bit about how busy, how exhausted, how demanding these past few months have been.

But I want to say something else here, I want to speak directly to the serious students of creative writing. I want to say--what I always say--to my students at the very end of my creative writing classes--

thank you. 

Thank you for trusting me with your stories.
Thank you for allowing me into your imaginations.
Thank you for your serious and considered efforts.
Thank you for speaking--which, as those of you who know me have heard me say often enough--
is not insignificant.
Thank you for giving me a job--which is also not insignificant--and I mean that in the most profound way.
I consider it a blessing to be able to speak about creative writing--with "serious intent" as Lucille Clifton used to say--to speak with passion and focus-- to those who feel that same seriousness of purpose--to those whose very presence in class constitute the "making of our contemporary literature culture."
Thank you for being brave. For taking risks. For looking--unflinchingly-- at yourselves as writers but also as human beings.
Thank you for your courage, your convictions, your passionate devotion to literature...

for all this--and more--I say thank you.

 I am a better writer--and a better person--for having you as my students.


Mad Coyote joe said...

I've said this before
The access that you provide changes lives. In my own case your direction and guidance changed the way I see myself. Due to your efforts I see myself as a writer and therefore an artist. As a long term student I have seen housewives, at the end of a long life, along with unstable children just coming to grips with who they are, wake the writer inside themselves and find thier voice. This is a true act of devotion and love. I am humbeled by your efforts and greatful that I walked into a classroom to find you.

Lois Roma-Deeley said...

Mille grazie!

The power of poetry is so often underestimated.

Moreover, I am continually amazed by my students' passion and devotion for the art--both in the writing and reading of poetry! As one publisher I brought to campus said of my students: "They are a book buying crowd." Poets who come to my campus typically sell between 15-20 books. That's an incredible number of books for the small reading series I created and run. One which is sustained by little or no funds. Yet, as you know, we typically have 25-50 people--or more--attend the "Visiting Writer Series." At the high end, we have had upwards to 75-125 students, staff, faculty and community members in attendance for a few events. You have been so some of these events and so could speak to this observation.

All this is evidence that my students take poetry seriously--they "vote" with their feet as well as their pocketbooks. They are truly the "makers of the culture of our times."

Thanks for writing this. It means a great deal to me.