Hello, friends! It's my very first week in the University of British Columbia's optional-residency creative writing MFA program. My current plan is to jot down some notes about the whole thing here every week so it doesn't all go by in a blur. We'll see how well that goes as I get busier, but optimism, right?! Yes. Optimism.
I am clearly not at all terrified.
While the official program of officialness doesn't really start until September, I signed up for a summer poetry class to get the ball rolling. Basically how it works is that every week, three students out of the class of twelve post a poem on our online forum. We have a week to share our initial thoughts, then the following Monday, we have formal workshop/discussion time.
I've spent this week reading and responding to my classmates' poems, and also working on my own. I'm really impressed with what I've read -- not only the poems, but the really kind, thoughtful and wise responses people have shared. I'm maybe 10% nervous to post my poem next week and 90% psyched to crowdsource help from all of these incredibly talented people.
I was looking through courses I can choose to take over the next few years -- so many different genres, from YA lit to screenwriting to fiction to graphic novels. It sort of still feels like a dream, or like I'm going to get the notice soon that my acceptance letter was sent in error. (Actually, I've been waiting for that notification ever since the moment I was accepted back in December of 2016. Please see my "Imposter-Syndrome Meter" below.)
What I'm Reading:
I just finished reading A Pillow Book by Suzanne Buffam. It's a 21st-century response to an 11th-century work by Sei Shonagon, a Japanese poet and lady of the court famous for her witticisms, gossip, observations and complaints. On the surface, it's a book about insomnia that alternates between snippets of prose and clever lists. I think this passage pretty much perfectly describes it:
“A book about someone who can’t sleep, who’s writing a book about pillows. The more pillows I write, however, the more strongly I suspect that [it] is as much about pillows as last night’s dream about getting lost in an underground parking lot at the mall was about getting lost in an underground parking lot at the mall.”
This week, I'm going to be reading The Corpses of the Future by Lynn Crosbie. Can't wait.
What I'm Writing:
I wrote a poem this week about a video I watched on Facebook. It featured a fake child abduction designed to teach a parent a lesson about not using their smartphone at the playground. I tried to capture my combination of outrage that somebody would create such a horrible video combined with the endless river of guilt I possess over not enjoying each moment with my daughter as much as I should.
It's interesting, because I think this was the first poem I've written that wasn't self-consciously A POEM. I am relatively new to this genre -- I just started writing poetry last summer as part of a Booming Ground mentorship -- and I feel like in the past, I've spent a lot of my time thinking thoughts like is this a poem am I doing it AM I DOING POETRY RIGHT, as opposed to having something to say and using poetry as a tool to express it.
I am pleased with this new development in my brain and I'll keep you posted. In any case, my mom liked my poem, and if nobody else does, at least there are toddlers and ice cream sundaes in the world.
What I'm Making:
If you've been keeping up with me on Instagram, you'll know that I recently took a sewing class as a writing procrastination tool. It was remarkably effective! And funnily enough, it seems that doing something physical and crafty is really helpful for my creativity in general. Sometimes you just need to sew a raccoon pillowcase, amirite?
My final project was this perfectly imperfect makeup bag. It may not be exactly symmetrical, but it holds my mascara. What more can I ask?
I also completed a sewing project of my very own this week which I cannot yet share with you. However, it involves this snazzy horse fabric.
Imposter-Syndrome Meter: 6/10
How's your week been?