Thursday, February 11, 2021

On Kaia Sand's _Remember to Wave_: a note to my class


Aloha class--

R wrote a brief response with his document poem to say he thought Sand's work was "niche," and he doesn't understand it. That's a very honest response, and I thought I'd say something about it (and again, I welcome zoom meetings with you any time).

Sand's work falls within the category of "documentary poetry," which was developed originally by poets like Muriel Rukeyser in the 1930s, and William Carlos Williams a bit later. In recent decades, a lot of documentary writing has been published; it seems a good time for it.

The reason I like to teach documentary poetry/writing is that it helps me to structure this course around "attention." It's so hard to pay attention now. It's difficult to sit and listen to birds. It's difficult to eat a raisin slowly. It's difficult to sit in silence. We're pummeled by digital noise, image, and sound coming to us through our ear buds. My intention in this class is to offer a way to slow down, take the world in, and then investigate it. That's what Sand does with her "noticing" and her "walking." (I sometimes structure this course around "walking," though that's perhaps more difficult these days, if you live in a crowded area.)

Reading a Sand poem involves being in conversation with it. She's not going to tell you everything she wants you to know; she sets up the conditions in which you can find them out yourself. So active reading is necessary. And sitting with the poems, thinking about them.

But of course we're all in a hurry. There's a pandemic. We need to work to make money. Life is exceedingly stressful.

Please consider this course an opportunity to slow down, take things in, and then expand your curiosity about the world around you--the one you see, and the one that was there before you were.

aloha, sms

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