I’m very excited to be here with Andrea Quaid and everyone today for collective conversations on feminist poetics and pedagogy. Like to many people, the two may not seem like conjoined subjects. I also admit I don’t purport to know much about the intersections of the two. I’ve explored both separately — pedagogy in the classroom, the jail, the digital space; poetry on the page, the classroom, in jars … I’m excited either way for an exploration of both poetry and pedagogy, two passions that should intersect for me. Upon conversations with Andrea over the years, we’ve been keen to understand that as feminists engaged with poetics, our interests and work in pedagogy have often not had a space for the two to intersect. Yet, as the quote from feminist poet Adrienne Rich explains to graduating women, education is a privilege and must be claimed. Why should feminist poets reclaim pedagogy as our own? In the symposium we’re hoping for a space that can facilitate this conversation. What does poetics offer pedagogy, and how it can facilitate the difference between life and death and the promise of education?
The first thing I want to say to you who are students, is that you cannot afford to think of being here to receive an education: you will do much better to think of being here to claim one …
In this series, I’ve been exploring poetry through intersections with visual art, cinema, and new media. Through taking up the question of the politics of play, I’m interested in exploring how playing across genres, mediums, forms, disciplines, and departments, etc. makes for new kinds of innovative art, thinking, community, and specifically poetry. In doing so, the hybridity of practices better intervenes and gestures toward transformative futures.
In her meditation, poet Mina Loy turns to multiple arts and genres to explain a process of osmosis as poetry. From utilizing words like “bewitched” to describing “music made of visual thought” and ideas “as sound,” Loy translates poetry into other forms of the imagination in order to define it.
Poetry is prose bewitched, a music made of visual thoughts, the sound of an idea. — Mina Loy
I visited Cambridge Elementary School earlier this year upon the invitation to give a poetry reading to a group of very sweet and deeply sensible young children in the fourth grade. After I read two poems, the students let out small sighs and when asked by their teacher Ms. Martin how they felt, exclaimed “That was so beau-tiful! Poetry makes me so calm! I love poetry!”
It may not have been the first time they heard poetry before. Poetry is seemingly everywhere. On billboards, on television screens, on radio broadcasts. But it may have been the first time they heard a poem read to them. What’s significant, and I don’t mean to suggest that these children loved my poetry in particular, is the sense that the rhythm, the terseness, the enjambments of poetry, offered a type of language and experience. It is true that my first book Love, Robot is a science fictional tale of a world where robots and humans fall in and out of love.
I start writing this lecture after class. I’m following what the poet Mary Ruefle writes in her book Madness, Rack, and Honey (2012) about how, upon being required to deliver standing lectures to graduate students, she opted to write them out instead of providing spontaneous, informal talks. She writes, “I preferred to write my lectures because I am a writer and writing is my natural act, more natural than speaking.” I am following this impulse to write into the questions and materials at hand.
I start writing this lecture after class. I’m following what the poet Mary Ruefle writes in her book Madness, Rack, and Honey (2012) about how, upon being required to deliver standing lectures to graduate students, she opted to write them out instead of providing spontaneous, informal talks.