It’s a privilege to be able to work individually with students. I carry into my own teaching the desire to share the attentive presence my teachers have offered me. My commitment is to the whole student, to help bring forth her most exploratory work. Keats singled out as the essential quality of the poet the capacity for “being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason,” and I heartily agree. I would like to shift the emphasis a bit, however, away from the image this all too easily evokes of the poet sequestered in an attic room somewhere, alone in the thrall of this endowment, toward the importance of relationship in stoking this capacity. How do we stay in this uncomfortable position of not knowing long enough to invite new work to take shape? What Robert Motherwell said of painting is perhaps true of tolerating uncertainty as well: it cannot be taught, but it can be learned (and, of necessity, relearned). And it can be practiced.
As a poetry teacher, my primary responsibility is to offer a field of regard. To provide what D.W. Winnicott termed a “holding environment” within which the student can experience murky generative states long enough to learn she can survive the process. It’s very rewarding to help students find their way to whatever provokes the freshest, most direct language, to help them hone their alertness to the living, breathing poems they brush past on their way to service their idea of the Poem. Mainly I just listen, and try to help them hear how much of what they say never makes it to the page. It is my job – and my delight – both to detect and care for these near-poems as they come into being. And to help the student attend to the poems on the page.
1:1 Sessions provide close attention to your writing process. You can use the time for whatever is most helpful for you, which could include:
- close attention to a specific poem or piece
- discussing a process issue in your work
- guidance with sending out work
- exploring graduate programs, fellowships, etc.
$45 – $75/hour (sliding scale)
Work exchange is an option. Please write for details.
If you live outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, meeting via Skype is a possibility.
If you’re interested in working 1:1, please email me here for more information.