8 September 2013
The start of ModPo has left me reeling, but in a good way. I spent some time in the thread where students were asked to introduce themselves. It was pretty fascinating, getting to know all these strangers. There’s a student who actually knew Jose Garcia Villa! I was just really starstruck about that. Villa is a legend in my country. I love his poems so much. I love reading about how he was friends with e.e. cummings and Tennesse Williams, among others. I remember reading his ‘comma poems’ in high school and dreaming of having coffee with my favourite writers (Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris is my imagination come to life).
Being tasked to be part of the welcome wagon takes a bit more work than I thought. I didn’t want to just say “welcome” over and over again, so I tried to find a point of interest that we can talk about. I suppose that’s how it works when two people meet in person, too. I don’t think I will ever be as comfortable doing this physically, but the internet helps me to somehow be more open and unafraid of connection.
I realised that I never did go there last year, in that thread. Not once. I avoided small talk at all costs. I was wary of talking about myself because I never knew what to say. Besides, nobody would be that interested, so why bother? But today I saw that it was anything but small talk. People were engaging. It’s fascinating to someone who is a wallflower, but I found it also terribly scary for awhile. There’s even another thread where the community TAs can introduce themselves, and I was really stumped on what to say. A lot my colleagues (can I call them that?) talked about their degrees and their work, if they were poets themselves and if they were published, the things they support, etc. If that was an actual room, the more people talk, the more I would’ve probably retreated further, until I was plastered to the wall, in the corner, in the dark, wishing nobody would notice me.
I thought about it. How would I introduce myself? What words can represent me that will sound true? In the end, I opted for a compromise. I talked a lot about the class because I felt that was important. Then I stated my name, my age, where I live. Then I said, “I work as a writer and a graphic designer. And I am absolutely in love with poetry.” Ugh, I am really bad at this.
Anyway, throughout the whole three hours or so that I was online, I was overwhelmed with this unnamed feeling as I see hundreds of people come pouring in. Was it gratitude? Excitement? I don’t know. But I was so full with warmth, and I wanted to embrace the world. I really believe in this class and what it can give you, and I wanted to shout to everyone who could hear: POETRY IS NOT DEAD! Here we are, 30,000 people strong and more, all arriving at this place where we can talk about poetry. Isn’t that beautiful?
I couldn’t help but say, it’s going to be amazing, and it will change your life. I found myself really meaning it, and typing it with feeling. It’s funny when I say it out loud, but that is really what I was doing. A student said, “This promises to be quite a journey.” I replied, “I traveled the path and back. Now here for the second time. Can’t wait to be enthralled once more.”