On Education, and How I Did Poetry Workshops At UNM

I must admit a predilection for the Classics so-called, especially Greek Comedy. I’m always reading contemporary poetry—in books, magazines, manuscript–being a poet, but recently I’ve been reading Samuel Richardson and I’m starting Jane Austen again. But I used to love Faulkner, Hemingway, Salinger, and could still, to a degree. I like Moliere, I love Shakespeare, I recently saw Noel Coward performed, and loved it. I like reading mythology, especially Greek and pre-Columbian. Gertrude Stein is my all-time favorite, mostly her popular works and essays. Good regional works are always favorites with most people and sometimes I like them, especially when read aloud by the writer or poet. I’m thinking of E. A. (Tony) Mares reading his “Unicorn Poem” and Rudolfo Anaya reading from Heart of Aztlan, etc.It is difficult for me to make a statement about education except I would like to teach what I enjoy reading and not be compelled to teach hundreds of pages of Plutarch, for instance, which I usually find tedious. I’d rather teach Lucian, or Sherwood Anderson. Mark Twain, H.P. Lovecraft, Willa Cather, Frank Norris—all would be a joy to tackle in the classroom.Working in a bookstore has given me a different perspective on literature. I’m now aware of the intense diversity of published literature, especially contemporary fiction and poetry; and it seems that to take advantage of the diversity in teaching, as long as it’s available in cheaper paperback, is the best way to go.Behind all this about “reading” is writing, what generated it all, and this comes as naturally to me as eating: I’ve been doing it all my life. I am a poet in and out, and that means I’m never without language-consciousness. I love working with students on even the tiniest points of language—whether it’s spelling “principal” or the use of apostrophes. Semantics intrigues me and I’ll consult my OED any time I get the chance. I’ve taught linguistics in the classroom (a la Paul Roberts), but it seems to me it all gets back to having a kid write, write, write, till our own written language becomes less foreign to us all.

larry goodell / placitas, new mexico /1983

How I Did Poetry Workshops At UNM

Photo above is of the books of poetry written & published by my students, University of New Mexico, 1993 . . .

Looking at the stack of books published (you can say) by my students from one of the very few semesters I was “allowed” to teach poetry workshops, I must add (tonight 25th of July 2014) that the approach I used seemed to work well for the students, judging from the outpouring & quality of their work. Keep in mind I’ve wanted to teach just about all my life but my bungling of my Master’s Degree (along with the help of UNM English Department) prevented me from having the qualification to teach.

Here is my approach. Many handouts of a great variety of contemporary poets’ poems I like. Many different approaches of how to write with suggestions. Lots of poems turned in and gone over in class usually without “criticism” just answering questions. Lots of their reading aloud from their writing.

The goal is 2 part. 1. Make up a press name, put your poems together in a booklet. You must do at least 2 copies and one goes to me. Each student has a press and a book(let).

2. Read from your book at the public reading at the end of the semester. The books of poems are then displayed in the Student Union Building in a glass case so that anyone can see the books.

I was amazed how well this seemed to work and dismayed that other poetry teachers did not put emphasis on the students doing a poetry reading and doing their own books. The students loved seeing their books on display and we had an exciting reading. lg

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About larry goodell

Poet exploring his viable extensions - publisher, performer, playwright - hand to hand help in creating spaces for poetry to be live in - reading events, recordings, online and tangible publications in the vocal spirit of his New Mexico.
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