Thoughts on Teaching
It is important that the writing of poetry be taught. Painters, sculptors, Irish fighters and musicians are taught technique. So must the poet be taught. I have received excellent training from journeyman and master poets, who have made my lines and writing life all the richer. As per Shakespear’s notion above, it is impossible to know which student will grow into poets and which will not, and so I aim to treat all my students as if their seed of potential is precious and worthy of nurture. If I can show my students what potential I see in them, thus giving them more light, I have succeeded. Usually when someone begins to write poetry, they’re scared to death. This is something I remember well; I want to help my students to saddle up anyway.
Two metaphors strongly communicate my aspirations as a teacher. To be the lamplighter teacher: she shows her students that inspiration for art is already embedded in them and gives them a mirror to see it’s pilot light. The bonsai gardener: she waters her student’s self-confidence three times before she picks up her shears.
Final word. It is important not to take one’s self too seriously in the beginning, middle, or end of one’s writing career. In my classes and in my one-on-one tutoring, there’s always laughter, but not the type that skewers one’s courage.