Poetry Is A Bloodsport Not Tee-Ball

For those few of you who don’t seem to already have a subscription to Poets & Writers.

From ‘A Rant Against Creative Writing Classes’ by Dan Barden

* * *

“It’s the first thing I tell my students: If you could understand, really understand, that no one -needs- to read your work, then your writing would improve vastly by the time we meet in this classroom again.”

“What I learned from Michaels…was to jealously love literature itself. He cared so deeply about what he read, even that miserable story of yours, that he could not be moved to lie about it. He could not be moved to blunt the force of his delight that you had delighted him or his anger that you had failed him. Nothing personal: He just cared more about the writing than anything else.”

” ‘Is that -really- how we should teach creative writing?’ As though it were a bloodsport?”

“If these are things that stop from writing…well, I’m sure that other things would have stopped you eventually.”

” ‘ Do the writers in the workshop want to improve their writing or do they just want to hear that they’re already doing well?’ “

“Here’s what I think: Workshops shouldn’t be about improving a student’s writing. That just gets her better comments in class and a better quality of rejection letter. Workshops should be about transforming her writing. Or, better put, about transforming her relationship to her writing.”

“Me, I know nothing about talent, but a lot about desire. Desire is what gets you from ten to a hundred thousand; desire is what makes a poet like Yeats.”

* * *

A bloodsport? I’m not quite sure I’m fully comfortable with that extreme, but its a far, far better relationship than having it be like a game of tee-ball. Not everyone should get a medal, especially if they can’t even run the bases.

Or, better put with the important notion of desire: If you don’t want to win the world series with every fiber of your being, do not show up for spring practice.


2 thoughts on “Poetry Is A Bloodsport Not Tee-Ball”

  1. I WANT TO WIN THE WORLD SERIES!!! or shed blood, or whatever metaphor you want…
    first I’d like to read that whole essay though…

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