Mine The Tension Series: Turning Back to Poetry

I remember when I first started writing poetry. I might have been eight or so and struggling with rhyme and the ins and outs of violets. I do recall thinking that poetry had to have capital letters down the left side of the page and needed to be about nature. I’m not a nature girl and the capital letters rule seemed so arbitrary and strange. I kept writing, mostly in secret, until graduate school.

Recently, I’ve turned back to poetry. I’m not quite sure why other than I know I’m interested in learning something new. I’m curious about how words are strung together. Part of that fuels my research: how words and concepts interact with ideas and become material. Part of that fuels my sense of self: words mean things. Words make worlds.

This semester, for a variety of reasons – mostly administrative and health-related – I am not teaching a formal class. I figured this would be my enrichment: learning how to be a poet. Yes, I know. I know. Some poets or writers will say: This isn’t something you learn how to do or be. Just go for it. It is inside of you. Others will say otherwise. There are things you need to learn. Poetry requires precision. It isn’t just about emoting on a page. This is the tension I’m in right now.

I want to live in this tension for a while, learning, doing, being. I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

About TAPPhD

Therí A. Pickens received her undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature from Princeton University (P'05) and her PhD in Comparative Literature from UCLA (2010). Her research focuses on Arab American and African American literatures and cultures, Disability Studies, philosophy, and literary theory. She recently published her first book, New Body Politics (Routledge, 2014), which investigates the role of the material body in constructing social and political critique. Her critical work has appeared in Disability Studies Quarterly, Al-Jadid, Journal of Canadian Literature, Al-Raida, and, the ground-breaking collection, Blackness and Disability: Critical Examinations and Cultural Interventions. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of English at Bates College. She is also a creative writer. Her poetry has appeared in Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire, Save the Date, and Disability Studies Quarterly. Her drama has been performed at the NJ State Theater. She offers courses on Arab American and African American literature. In her introductory courses, she seeks to provide students with information and skills that will enable and empower them to critically and constructively engage difficult topics like race, sexuality, gender, disability, and class. In her upper division courses, she pushes students to synthesize their knowledge from other classes and expand their critical thinking repertoires.
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