Gifts

22 October 2013
3:06 PM
Manila

M.–

There’s a thread in ModPo called ‘Thanks for these three gifts,’ and people are coming in to say wonderful things. I sat down to share mine, but ended taking hours to finish. Here’s what I wrote (edited some names for privacy):

These are gifts within gifts—

Last year, my reasons why I signed up for ModPo:

  1. William Carlos Williams, Robert Creeley, Frank O’Hara
  2. Because I’ve always wanted to study poetry seriously, and circumstances in my life didn’t allow for that
  3. Because I said on that particular day, that if I’m going to do one thing for myself, it would be this

Last year, what ModPo gave me that I didn’t expect:

  1. Claude McKay, a discussion about history, and the start of a friendship with a fellow student hundreds of miles away
  2. A window to Stein and Kerouac, a clarity that I never thought I would arrive at
  3. The realisation of how small and limited my world was, and how so much of it is out Here, with you

Last year, for my personal growth (and redemption):

  1. That poetry saves, that ModPo, in particular, got me out of the deep dark
  2. Dickinson and Niedecker, for reaffirming so much about my writing life—that it is a writing life, and that there is no layoff from This
  3. Stein, O’Hara and Hejinian, for teaching me about language, about grief and life and living

Last year, from the discussions:

  1. “Life isn’t lived linearly, and you shouldn’t have to write about it in a linear fashion.” — K., in the beginning of the course
  2. “When his creator made him a poet, it was henceforth the most important thing he was.” — Al Filreis, from a discussion on Cullen
  3. “If you try to separate life into beginnings, middles, and endings, you’re insulting life’s inherent intricacies…Everything works together with everything else to make a life what it is.” — T., from a discussion on Stein

Last year, reasons why I stayed:

  1. Because I found my place and my people
  2. Because of Al Filreis and the TAs
  3. Because it kept me alive

This year, reasons why I came back:

  1. Because I am doing it for myself
  2. Because I want to give back to the community who has given me so much
  3. Because the work of poetry is never over

This year, for my own personal growth:

  1. Watching my friend go through ModPo and seeing something I love through her eyes
  2. Discussions about pedagogy, and what it means to be able to do This at this time
  3. Learning how to empty my cup, so I can learn new things from poems I’ve already read, and loved, and known

This year, from the community:

  1. The various study groups and discussion threads that I am part of, and a chance to be more present
  2. Live webcasts and synchronous chats over at Twitter + PennSound Radio

This year, from the discussions:

  1. “Here’s the small gasp: we’re lost in a poem…and that loss is thrilling.” — Al Filreis, from the second live webcast
  2. How C. told her child’s teacher that there are thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird

(Well, the course is not yet over!)

This year, reasons why I have stayed, am staying, will stay:

  1. “Poems as truth bombs” — from the first live webcast
  2. Because of this community, Al Filreis, ModPo staff and the community TAs
  3. And finally:

as long as you are—
as long as you are.

T.

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