Saturday, June 26, 2010

One Week Peek: Graduate School

It's been one week since I started my MFA program. Beginning with a summer intensive in autobiographically based writing, I've clocked my hours by:
  • deciphering 8 poems ("Velocity and throat verisimilitude." -- Lyn Hejinian's My Life) 
  • reading 12 works of nonfiction/fiction prose ("A short, dry laugh, a rabbity laugh." -- Roberto Bolano's Savage Detectives
  • reading 3 essays of criticism, some understandable, some cryptic ("There, the long hypotactic sentences yield to a flurry of short ones, increasing the occasions for full end stops with those paratactic declaratives, which are reinforced, never subdivided, by the lineation.")
  • listening to numerous lectures by brilliant instructors ("Memory corrupts the thing remembered") and the clever comments of my cohort, mine rarely among them (fuh fuh fuh and ha ha ha)
  • writing responses to 5 students' work ("What does the narrator want the reader to discover about this girl/her mother/the family/the era?")
  • scribbling awkward poetry in a frenzied state of inspiration while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge ("your steely expanse stretched in perpetuity")
  • writing a critical essay in response to a chosen poem ("If My Life is to be Hejinian's Manifesto, she is declaring that memory, and its linguistic representation, isn't linear or complete.")
  • turning in 14 pages of nonfiction, to be critiqued Tuesday ("How does one account for the blur of decades, the ineptitude of memories cut like still shots from scrapbooks?")
  • studying MLA guidelines ("Most research assignments ask you to form a thesis"), a glossary of narrative terms ("Denouement: The 'wrap-up' phase at the end of a narrative") and poetic terms I'd never heard of (metonymy, synecdoche, anapestic).
Yesterday was the first day that I wasn't writing or studying its form, but simply reading for pleasure - from a poolside hammock to the deck's cantilevered bench, from the sofa to the bed. 100 pages of Po Bronson's riveting What Should I Do with My Life: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question. But I have noticed an interesting shift in my awareness as I read, entertained and intrigued by the story content while simultaneously the secretary in my brain is noting how it is written.

Today it's back to the books.

1 comment:

Joanna Jenkins said...

All that in ONE week! My head would be spinning but it sounds fascinating!


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