Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The first poetry class

Yesterday I went to my first poetry class. I couldn't find it. I was looking in the room that will be the correct one for the next term. Then I got all flustered and boldly asked a professor in her office if she would help me. She would not. I then walked in the pouring rain to the building that houses the registrar's office. There, where earlier there had been none, was a long line snaking down the hall. I asked a young woman if she would help me - a student sitting on a chair with a laptop. She said she would look it up on her laptop. I really appreciated that. She saw in my eyes my fear and unlike the first person didn't want to get away from the daft older student. Information in hand I ran back to the building where my class was and entered the class - the last one in. At least I know the instructor - my pal Sue Goyette - and the reason I was taking the course.

I'm a graduate of Dalhousie University but it has been about sixteen years since I attended and though I've been to seminars and other events it is different. I felt that old feeling. I liked it. It made me want to be a student again - a proper one in a master's program. But unlike my student loan, the longing will pass. The school is basically the same but I found some surprising differences. If you ever want to know how technology has changed the world in the past twenty years go back to your old university. First of all there is no need to post things on the doors of classrooms saying what is going on inside because everyone has a laptop with them (but me) and can simply tap into the system and find out whether rooms have changed or if a professor or instructor can't make it. Or whatever it is you must know now. A student next to me was texting while Sue was teaching and I thought I'd hit her one but then I realized everyone was. Heck, maybe they were tweeting her bon mots. Why not?

Other things had changed without anyone contacting me as well. The Grad House is gone. I walked by where it used to be several times looking for it. I wanted to have my lunch there (this was before I got lost and thought I had plenty of time to fossick about in nostalgia. I loved the Grad House with its funny stairway and grumpy old professors hiding in the corners. Ah well. I ate a perfectly reasonable lunch in the Grawood - a lounge with very few folks at the time of day I was there. Oh ... I just looked up the Grad House and it isn't gone - it has just moved a bit away. Ah well. Good then - I'll report on it next week.

One thing that has changed for sure is the buildings that used to house the English Department. They were these funky old Victorian houses. Now they are this big edifice with elevators and theatres and very clean and nice. But kind of boring. Ah well.

The class was great. I knew Sue would be a dynamite teacher - inspiring, loving, funny - and she didn't disappoint one bit. We started right in with fun exercises and getting to know each other (this is a small class - sixteen or so students). One of the aims of the year is for us to develop a body of work that could be a chapbook. To get us ready for that we are to consider what subjects and directions our work will explore. I plan on spending this week thinking about that. I have some ideas. I've been thinking about the sixty poems in sixty days project I did and wondering what areas I visited more than twice. Nature as a healing force was definitely one. I'm also considering how dogs think - which might be connected. Not sure. I'll keep you posted. We have to have our first of ten poems ready to hand around next week. Several will get workshopped I guess. I'm very jazzed about that.

Here is a photo for you ... a cabbage in West Dover that was kind of shy at first but then really opened up to me.

6 comments:

Richard said...

I graduated from college in 1968. I took some post graduate courses in 1988-89 at the U of North Florida, and hadn't been back to college since. There were no laptops back then. Three weeks ago I started taking art (drawing) classes at UNF as a retiree. It's really a different world now from even the late eighties. Yes, I couldn't find what room my class was in, so a student looked it up on her laptop. Yeah, it's a different world.

Liza said...

I've entertained dreams about going back to school, but I never considered how different it would be now. Makes me nervous, so good thing the dream is just that...so far. Hooray for you!

Patricia Stoltey said...

How exciting. I haven't taken a real college class for a long time, although I've been in a few continuing education classes like photography and writing. I felt I was an older student when I went back at age 30 to finish my bachelor's degree and then hung around a little longer to take a few classes toward a master's. I'd really be an older student if I went back today...but it sounds like fun. :D

Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - How wonderful that you started this poetry class! I hope you'll share some of what you write. I'm glad too that the class itself was a good experience. But you know, I'm stuck on the professor who wouldn't help you find the class. I just can't imagine why someone would refuse to help...

Faith Pray said...

Oooh, it sounds like a yummy phase for you! I love the ways you keep stretching yourself, growing into this mighty writing tree. It gives me courage - and makes me want to send up shoots.

grrl + dog said...


I do love being a student, and I know the feeling you speak of, but I'd be a luddite too - what no hardcopy post it note on the door??