To me, the best thing about my MFA experience was not learning how to write, but learning to live as a writer. Observing the habits and attitudes that can sustain and enrich a long-term pursuit of language (from my understanding: it's deep reading, frequent scribbling, and occasional foolishness). It's important to surround yourself with people you admire, and I was able to do that in spades at Hollins. How about some words from those folks?:
Jeanne Larsen is interviewed at the Southeast Review
I will say this: a view of experience that encourages attentiveness to how things are and to the consequences of our actions, that discourages sensory gluttony even as it opens you up and loosens the neurotic ego’s lockdowns, any view that says “things change. this body, too. now breathe”—well, I find it helpful.
And the incomparable mind of Richard Dillard on display at Blackbird:
Poetry is, I could say, in the eye and ear of the beholder, and perhaps it is. I believe, for example, the black and marbled pages in Tristram Shandy to be among the most meaningful poems I have ever read. I was particularly convinced that great poetry is where you find it with Wittgenstein who, in the midst of war and anguish and suicide, said that philosophy should be written like a poem, and who, while struggling with the failure of the word, found the Word. If he’s not a poet, who is?
Rural, archaic musics have been persistently popular, rediscovered by every generation and newly imagined. In thirty years of following music obsessively, I’ve seen the rise and fall of musicians and movements, revivals and retirement, promising debuts, slow disappearances. I have spent a lot of time in the country, in small towns of Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, California, Washington, Oregon, Oklahoma, Alaska, Virginia, New York, Mississippi, and Alabama. I have only heard “rural music” and its fans in big cities and college towns. In the small towns, the soundtrack is more hip-hop than hillbilly, which is magnificent for them, but reminds me that folk, country, and bluegrass music are just a fantasy.
-Ed Skoog over at Coldfront
Last year the writer Denis Johnson came to Wilmington, North Carolina, where I live, for a conference. Ben George, who edits the magazineEcotone and was hosting him, graciously asked me to tag along. There were memorable days. Granted, I would file a trip to Food Lion with Denis Johnson under fairly interesting life events.
-from The Paris Review
Killer first line of the moment:
We learn to live without passion.
Frost understood poets need all the help they can get, and it is a pleasant surprise to discover the magazine currently grappling with success. Its circulation has nearly tripled to 30,000 since Christian Wiman, a poet and critic, took over as editor eight years ago. Poetry receives 100,000 submissions a year and publishes 300 — the open door now closer to the eye of a needle.
So, so, so good.