Mario Cuomo once said in a New Republic article, “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.” I recently was hanging out with the brother of a dear friend who, it turns out, has been writing a poetry. We spent a bit of time at some local breweries in Charlotte and then worked on editing some of his work.
This summer and this fall will be all about the bliss of prosody (fancy word for poetry) and a culmination of years of writing and teaching. I have been working on my fourth master’s, M.Litt. in Poetry, and will be in Santa Fe, New Mexico, taking a poetry workshop with Ruth Forman and an Indigenous American literature course with Simon Ortiz at Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English.
Now, what makes this summer particularly special is that I will segue into teaching graduate poetry in the fall in Asheville at Lenoir-Rhyne’s MA in Writing program, Evolution of Poetry as a Form.
I don’t know what happened, but my MFA was in fiction, and, yet, the last few years, I think in poetry, ever since I taught the great student, Patrick Martin, in Poetic Techniques at SUNY-Purchase. You might say that I’ve found my poetic feet. Having a beer with Seamus Heaney in the Bread Loaf barn; eating dinner with Derek Walcott at SUNY-Purchase; seeing and meeting Czeslaw Milosz in Houston (all Nobel Prize winners). Studying with Pulitzer winner Richard Howard at University of Houston. Receiving a random book of poetry to review from a friend, Rob Patry, on Facebook. All of these things occur outside the writing of poetry, but they become poetic too.
Last summer I won the Bread Loaf School of English Poetry prize, and since then, the poems keep finding me, even in my friend’s brother who, in just one sitting, started to see that you can’t think a poem, that you need to listen to cummings when he says “feeling is first.”
Yes, there is form; you have to have it. But when you locate the real poetry in your verse, something sublime happens–and yet so simple at the same time. So on this day, I want argue that as much as I love prose (read my three books of fiction), the moment, the feeling is finding itself in poetry. I’m going to argue then that we govern in poetry some day.