Month: September 2014

Nazia Jannat Introduction – Columbia University ’17

I winged my way into grad school. Yup, you heard me crystal clear. I didn’t prepare for the GRE, I took a nosedive into the process during senior year of college, my fucking submission packet fucking came in late after the fucking deadline, I only applied to 3 schools, and I definitely didn’t try for fully funded magical realms like Iowa. Instead, I poured my heart out and took a chance on the little things that made me weird. While I’m not as weird (or funny) as my role model Al Yankovic, there are still a couple of peculiarities I’m comfortable admitting.

Three Weeks In: Finding My Rhythm Again As A Student.

Following a 25-year summer break, I now find myself back in school full-time. Three weeks in to my MFA at Stony Brook University, I am slowly beginning to find the rhythm of being a student again. One thing for certain, this isn’t even vaguely reminiscent of my undergrad years. I was a full-time student then, as now, but apparently the definitions have changed. Within the first three weeks, I’ve already submitted over 50 pages of writing, read a book and a quarter, several essays and done at least half a dozen in-class writing assignments. Granted, that’s what I’d signed up for, but I hadn’t quite realized how quickly it would consume my life. That said, I continue to pinch myself when my teachers share insights or quote literature or give us other glimpses into the elusive “writer’s life.”

Readings and softball and workshop, oh my!

I have officially been in Charlottesville for a little over a month, and have been in class for three weeks. My poetry workshop this semester is taught by Greg Orr, and I had my first poem workshopped on Monday. It went really well. I’ve dealt with quite a few workshop dynamics so I never know what to expect going in to a new one. Everyone was kind and helped me parse through the parts of the poem that were tripping them up or causing confusion. During Greg’s office hours the next day we talked about the poem some more and afterwards I decided to split the poem into two new poems (never complain when you get two poems for the price of one). My other class is “The Poetics of Ecstasy” with Lisa Russ Spaar. This one has really been twisting my brain in new directions and I’ve produced a lot of new poems already because of it. Two of the poets I’ve read for the class, Brian Teare and Sappho, have provided lots of inspiration. …

“And now, to delight my friends, I shall sing beautifully.”

Eros has informed, propelled, and guided my poems, my literary ambitions and my life up to this point. It has influenced the languages I’ve studied for the past five years, the poets I’ve read, the people I’ve pursued, and the MFA programs I applied to during my last year at Kenyon College. As writers, we try to keep clear of cliché phrases like “life-changing” or “transformative,” and yet, I can trace the bulk of what I’ve written and studied, particularly in the last two and a half years, to one poem I encountered in a Modern American Poetry seminar I took in the spring of my sophomore year. Not only can I trace it back to one poem (“Fragment 116” by HD) but to the five words that formed the epigraph to that one poem, which came from Sappho––a poet I had vaguely encountered, mostly in name and reputation only, before April of 2011. Those five words, μήτε μοι μέλι μήτε μέλισσα neither the honey nor the bee for me, deceptive in their alliterative simplicity, …

Sarah Abbott – Introduction (University of Kentucky ’16)

When you go whitewater rafting on the New River for the first time, you don’t know what to expect. Climbing with a crowd of other people into an old yellow bus, you clack helmets and paddles against one another before settling in for the trip down to the departure point. The bus smells a little like mildew as it careens around kiss-your-hiney curves. Along the way, the head rafting guide tells you all the things that can go wrong when you are out there on the rapids. What to do while you’re in the raft; what to do if you fall out. Then you’re out on the water, feet wedged firmly under the seat in front of you, and the guide’s warnings drift away like the damselflies that perched for a moment on your paddle. The river is tranquil, but you can hear the whitewater coming. Anticipation thrums through your fingers as you tighten your grip. A reckless smile spreads across your face. Just as you enter the first set of rapids, you realize there …

August

A day late, a dollar short. Well, a day late, at least. I intend to post on the last day of each month to summarize what I’ve been up to here at Alaska-Fairbanks. But that intention has already gone awry, though justifiably, I think. This week has been jam-packed with various orientations. Still, I will get you caught up the best I can. I’m calling this entry “August”, but in reality, it covers the whole summer.