From the chair’s desk:
As many of you know, Writers Week at UNCW is the big deal of the year for us in terms of events and general busy-ness. We (faculty) always look forward to it in advance, and then afterward feel relieved when it’s over as one does in the aftermath of Christmas or any other big annual holiday. Good, we think, back to real life.
This year, it was the same, with literary luminaries including Natasha Trethewey and John Jeremiah Sullivan, and it all went spectacularly well. And now I’m happily back to teaching sonnets to my Intermediate Poetry Workshop students. In recent years I’m moving headfirst into becoming something of a Form Nazi, which for some reason doesn’t seem to bother my students nearly as much as I thought it might. The thing is, after nineteen years of teaching poetry writing here, I realized that one has to make choices what gets left in or out of one’s pedagogy, and I determined that the aural qualities of the art, the expressive tradition of musical language is something that needs to be fostered. So now I insist on practice, and I beat it into their heads (metaphorically) as once a kindly elderly violin teacher once beat time into my own bony skull (not metaphorically).
I quit the violin, after a year or two, when I was seven. But if I hadn’t taken those lessons, I would never have learned what a perfect instrument can feel like in one’s hands, or what sublime and human music, capable of truly Shakespearian expressiveness, can be achieved with it. Same, same, same for the sonnet. This week, I’m going to have a fantastic time.
I wanted to reblog this broadside, from the opening of John Jeremiah Sullivan’s magisterial essay Mister Lytle, partly in celebration of another fantastic Writers Week, which concludes today; partly in celebration of the great community of writers here in Wilmington, where Sullivan lives; and partly just for those who, for whatever reason, might have been meaning to read Pulphead someday but just haven’t got around to it … This might strike a spark for you.