In a poetry class or workshop, participants may have extensive different levels of experience or types of experience. In a classroom, I work to move beyond personal style, culture and ethnicity to counsel and promote effective poetics across a broad spectrum.
I see my classes as spaces to give students capacity, confidence and some agency in their own work.
I work to expose the students to examples and experiences that encourage them to experiment with unexplored styles. Often this will foster opportunities to develop an effective voice and powerful emotional expression.
In order to establish an environment where the student can feel comfortable stretching their usual boundaries in writing assignments and in analyzing the works of others that are sometimes dramatically different from their own, we work to create a relationship of mutual respect for how others think and their individual experiences.
Reinforcement and encouragement are the basis of a successful writing class. But corrective direction must also be a component of that class. Without encouragement, the writer may become disillusioned, angry or frustrated and may recede from the community of writers. But this does not mean we accept all poems as written. Rather, we strive to truly listen, evaluate, identify the poet’s intent, discover the spine of narrative necessarily embedded even in strictly lyric poems and identify the mood or emotion that often replaces the strict narrative. We/I engage in the machinery of poetry.