Back to School: Poetry 101

My alma mater. Where my soul and mind were well fed.

I’m going back to school.  Wanna come?

Don’t you remember the excitement of the new year?  A legion of sharpened pencils.  A carefully-selected notebook with neatly arranged folders.  A stark calendar awaiting the scribbled adornment of activities, assignments, and football games. But at the heart of all the frenzy is the promise of a new beginning.  A fresh start. The potential of the unknown.

As we grow older, the line between seasons begins to blur. The workplace rarely closes for summer vacation, and new starts are far less definitive.  We become pragmatic and resolved.  Too often, we trade in curiosity and imagination for practicality and security.  We deny an invaluable portion of our inheritance – the part of our souls that was designed to create.  Why?

“Children are more creative (than are adults) and are natural inventors.  Their worldview is incomplete and demands discovery. They prosper because they embrace their ignorance instead of ignoring it. And they are willing to explore, investigate, and put their ideas to the test because they are willing to fail.” (Sam McNerney. Killing Creativity: Why Kids Draw Pictures of Monsters & Adults Don’t )

 

We’re too busy.  Our schedules are packed with “have-tos” and we rarely venture to consider the “dream-ofs.”  I’d suggest, however, that under the emperor’s fine purple garments of busy schedules often exists the exposing, naked reality of our own fear. Fear of failure.  Fear of looking silly or impractical.  Or fear of wanting more.

My friend, John, is a gifted therapist who spends his days talking with folks as they struggle to make sense of the hard things in life.  John recently discovered that he has quite a talent for sculpting.  In writing about his journey, John notes that “Sometimes, the riskiest thing for us to do is to trust and try.”

So how about it?  You don’t have to step on the yellow school bus or move into a college dorm this fall in order to try something new.  If you could go back to school, what classes would you take that you missed the first time around?  What activities?  Why not trust and try?

I’ve always been a lover of the well-written word.  I enjoy discovering and reading poetry with my children, and have a special place in my heart for the prose of Emily Dickinson and T.S. Eliot. I dabbled in poetry in high school and college, yet I’ve settled comfortably into the role of a distanced appreciator.

This fall, Chris Yokel (who you may remember from Redeeming the Fall) will be offering two 4-week sessions for folks who have limited or no experience with poetry, but who’d like to learn more.  In a nutshell:

The Basics of Poetry (Sept.17 – Oct. 7): Basic literary elements of poetry.  Teaching videos will be posted on Youtube.

Poetry Writing Workshop (Oct. 15 – Nov.11): Poetry workshop including exercises to help challenge and prod you along.

The class has been designed for those who need flexibility and can commit varying degrees of time. You can find out more detail and sign up for the class at chrisyokel.com.

Whether it’s daring to venture into a poetry class or a pottery studio, exploring a new genre of music or learning the art of cooking Thai cuisine, take a chance. Excitement is drifting through the early autumn air. Breathe in deeply. Let it inspire you.

And if you’re afraid of trying something new, well, I’ll embarrass myself first on the world wide web, so whatever you choose to do may feel a bit less vulnerable. Here goes my first, timid, awkward attempt at haiku:

no more excuses
keyboard strokes dash through veiled pride
to create brings life

 
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One thought on “Back to School: Poetry 101

  1. You. Rock. !! I get this. If it was up to me, I would still be in school and maybe on my nth major. Never can get enough of learning new things. But I do drag my feet on this the older I get. How you inspire. Trust and try. Good motto 🙂

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