I've been asked to be a poet for a number of panel proposals for the upcoming Chicago AWP conference in 2009. Funny that I phrase it that way, since I haven't quite felt like a poet for awhile. I've been a father and a teacher for the better part of a month, and I'm feeling a little out of sorts.
My ruminations on my title have me "chewing" on other things as well--genre, for instance. I'm teaching a graduate level class on the prose poem . . . a form (form?) at which I'm supposedly expert. Whomever has said such things has probably got the wrong guy. What can I tell you about the prose poem? That it's shorter than a short story? That sometimes there's no story? Maybe that often there's no plot in them and that they're given to economy in their language? To me, a prose poem is like pornography--I know it when I see it. I suppose that makes it difficult for me to feel like I'm imparting knowledge on my grad students . . . that I'm creating more issues for them as up and coming writers.
And now, I've been asked to propose a course for next year's graduate students and I've decided to teach a seminar on the long poem. How's that for messing with some heads?
Speaking of long poems, do we still highly regard the work of James Merrill? If I were to teach a course on the long poem, should I include The Changing Light at Sandover?
Additionally, there are a number of contemporary poets who are in the midst of a long-poem project that's yet to be completed. Brenda Hillman, for example, is still working on a poetic sequence involving the "primary" elements--earth, wind, fire, water. So far, I think she's dealt with water and wind . . . not sure, though. And Marvin Bell's Dead Man poems. I don't think he's quite finished with that project yet, despite what he tells the public.
My parents visited last weekend, spelling us some relief. It's still work to have company over, but having folks who can handle a baby at a restaurant really helps us relive our personhood.
I want to see Iron Man, but free time is at a premium these days.