Against Defending an MFA Thesis, but in Praise of Reflections & Closure

I spent this week attending the thesis defenses of my graduate students. I don’t love the word “defense” in this context, as it implies an adversarial stance between mentors and student and suggests that an authority’s approval of a creative work matters. I tend to think to think the task of an artists is to imagine a way through and beyond what has been done before; “defending” requires very opposite impulses. But I do love defenses!

Finding Your Readers: Some Practical Publishing Advice

Whether or not you are seeking publishers for your work, studying the publishing landscape can be a really helpful way to imagine how your work might speak to its readers. There are so many fantastic magazines with such a diversity of aesthetics flourishing right now. But this abundance can make it hard for emerging writers to find the writers, publishers, and readers who will be most inspiring to them. To help navigate this terrain and find their place among the many writers flourishing right now, I give students the following assignment…

Seeing the Angles: An Exercise in Camerawork as Creative Revision

I’m a recent convert to Instagram — I missed the pictures-of-food years — but I have loved transforming my private practice of spotting and researching plants into a more public one that incorporates photography into the exercise. This practice has been reminding me how much the craft of poetic imagery overlaps with photographic techniques.

Conversations with Plants: An Exercise & Reading List

I developed a habit of talking to the plants in the pasture behind my house to ease this loneliness. My ways of listening in these conversations took the form of observation, research, sustainably harvesting wild foods and medicines, and learning the stories cantankerous hags and witches like me had been whispering about them for as long as people and plants have been friends.

I have been developing a new exercise in writing and living to create connections and a feeling of connectedness on the road. I thought maybe other poets would find it fun to try. Or that folks using Rue as a text in their creative writing classrooms would like to share this exercise with their students…

Exercises in Creative Revision + Some Notes on Running a Revision-Focused Workshop

I recently had a chat with a talented poet working on a first book. This writer was in an ad hoc workshop group and wanted to know what I thought about some advice on voice that had been given. The advice wasn’t given carelessly or cruelly, but it did reveal that the giver of thatContinue reading “Exercises in Creative Revision + Some Notes on Running a Revision-Focused Workshop”