Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wherein I Wax Enthusiastic about My Poetry Class

Sometimes a gal just has to try what seems to be a darn foolish thing. In my case it was taking a poetry writing class at university. Why foolish? It cost money and I'm a poor semi-starving artist; I have an English degree so an undergrad course isn't going to help me get anywhere; I'm trying to get five (that's right FIVE!) novels in some order to be sold and any time I'm not working my day job trying to bring in money I should be working on them. But my heart knows things way before my brain does. My heart knew that for the last year I've been wandering back to poetry land - a landscape I've explored since I was fourteen. My heart knew that this was the right time and definitely the right person (my pal and amazing poet Sue Goyette is the teacher). I am loving it. To let you know how I am loving it I am going to explain it with a metaphor comparing it to The Three Jewels of Buddhism. The Three Jewels are the Buddha or Teacher that is connected to the lineage, the Dharma or the Truth written or orally passed down, and the Sangha or community of like followers.
note bene: for all you Buddhists please remember this is a metaphor - stretched thin perhaps but still - be compassionate.
Here is what the site for my teacher, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, says about the three jewels:
The Three Jewels
According to Buddhism, the nature of enlightenment is inherent in all sentient life. The purpose of the Buddhist path is to penetrate the confusion that leads to the painful cycle of suffering (samsara) and thereby to uncover mind's inherent wakefulness (nirvana). This is known as attaining enlightenment, or Buddhahood. The teaching of a Buddha is called the Dharma, which means the Law or the Truth, and shows the way to relative happiness and ultimate enlightenment. The Dharma is taught in many ways, according to needs of the particular students. Unbroken successions of great beings have followed the Buddha's teachings and example and continue to teach the path of enlightenment to others. Those who practice the teachings are called the Sangha. These three aspects, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, represent the core values of Buddhism and are known as the Three Jewels.
The Teacher - Sue is a dynamite teacher and she is definitely an actualized poet and lineage holder. She inspires us to think like poets - to take our poet sensibilities everywhere we go - to see the world as poets see it. She brings in the works of those poets who have inspired her and she gently encourages us to be fearless when it comes to our own poetry practice.

The Dharma - like becoming a Buddhist part of the learning is done by hearing about the words of others who have trod this path but the main teaching is done by doing the practice ourselves. We sit down by our selves and work with our minds to create poems. The more we do this the more raw and real it seems the poems get. All good.

The Sangha - we are a sangha of about nineteen - women and men, young and old. We are committed to practicing poetry and to encouraging each other in that practice.We workshop poems almost every week and I get almost unbearably excited about what I'm going to hear and what is going to be shared. When people practice together in this way, magic happens.

So... yay for hearts that know more than minds! What does your heart tell you lately?

7 comments:

Liza said...

Ahh. You have made me remember how much I loved a poetry class I took in college. The professor was temperamental, and, it seemed, appeared at class time only if he wanted...but when he did, Oh my! He's gone now, but I just googled him and found this site with three of his amazing poems. Oh yes, you made me miss that class. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/john-engels

Jude said...

Your poem on facebook about your relief with the results of the american election is brilliant! Wish I could have shared it.
Love your insight, brain, empathy.

Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - I am so happy that you are finding your poetry class so fulfilling. And I couldn't agree with you more about the power of doing your own writing and experiencing that growth with others who are growing too. It all does sound marvellous.

Stacy Post said...

Poetry rocks! I'm so glad you're exploring it, Jan. :) Yay!

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