What can I tell you that you don’t already know?

Some mornings, I awake with a line or a phrase. In this case, prompted I think, by reading about syllabics. (Four stressed syllables above).

Among the lectures and notes that comprise Compendium: A Collection of Thoughts on Prosody, Donald Justice quotes John Cage:

“Our poetry now is the realization that we possess nothing. Anything, therefore, is a delight.”


“the idea of relations being absent, anything may happen.”

As for the rest of the notes on metrical types and syllabics, I will admit: I want to be more interested than I am. But let us keep this between us. I fear this makes me a Very Bad Poet.


Yesterday in class, one student, when I observed that he looked like he wanted to speak, said “I have ideas but I don’t think they’re very intelligent,” and proceeded to express them. He made a lovely connection between two things we had read, it doesn’t matter much what they were, but that he made it. And it made me so happy that he did, and that then, as a class, we could talk it through together. A few other students added to and expanded on his initial thought and it all felt like a very wonderful moment indeed. This is what I want: a shared experience of intellectual curiosity in an environment that feels safe enough to speak before one is fully ready to.

Later, I went to hear Sawako Nakayasu and Laird Hunt read. Sawako read from new work that was lively and exuberant and Laird read what he referred to as “autofiction,” about time spent in London and Paris with his family. For a section, he read with photographs from the trip projected on the screen behind him. I felt very much at home, in that room, among those writers, many whose work I have known for a long time. My teachers were there: Carole Maso, Bob Coover. Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop, with whom I did not study, but who are like the patron saints of the program. What I mean to say is: I felt fortunate to be in such company.

Before the reading started, Bob waved me over. It was the first time I had seen him since I had given him my book at the end of last year. He thanked me, said it was beautiful and told me, “I read it all the way to the end,” which I take as high praise.

He said, “I have some notes, I’ll get them to you,” and I laughed, recalling his careful red script on all my early stories. Then just as the event was about to begin, he said, “I want to know what’s next.”