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.
I’m also excited to be playing on an intramural softball team with some of the other MFA students. We had our first game on Tuesday and it was a lot of fun. I’d never played before; I know quite a bit about baseball from watching the Reds, but playing is an entirely different story. I was the second baseman (which is to say, I played Brandon Phillips’ position) and I managed to field a couple of ground balls to the first baseman. I think I still need to work on my hitting, though. I did channel Joey Votto for one at-bat and drew a walk.
In terms of community, UVA is definitely a 10/10. We have dinner clubs, an MFA reading series, intramurals, we hang out after workshop and after Lisa’s class and also when we don’t have classes. It’s been lovely so far to say the least, and I’m beyond excited to be here.
Speaking of the MFA reading series, last night I was the first poet to read. I was on and off nervous throughout the day, and sort of calmed down when I got to the venue. Then I learned there wasn’t going to be a mic and that calmed me down even more. Weirdly enough, I would rather do a reading without a mic. I got to read alongside an amazing first year fiction student, and it was great to read my work out loud again. It’s been a while!
Tonight, I’m going to a reading featuring Brian Teare and a couple of other writers. We just read his book Pleasure for my ecstasy class, and I’d highly recommend it. I’ve been keeping track of all of the poets this semester who I get to hear read and/or meet, and it’s an awesome list so far: Brian Teare, Ada Limón, Larissa Szporluk, Claudia Rankine, Claudia Emerson, maybe Natasha Trethewey, and possibly Charles Wright (crossing my fingers hard). I’m also going to be back in town to hear Marianne Boruch read at the University of Cincinnati.
It’s going to be a fun semester. Can’t wait to take you along for the ride.
Photo by Keith Allison