On the Prairie
Last October, I had the great pleasure of visiting Kansas State University, where I sat in on the graduate poetry workshop, met with graduate student poets individually, and gave a reading. (I also slept in the renovated ranch house out on the Konza Prairie, where the night is brilliant and immense.) I was a student in that very workshop–taught by that very Elizabeth Dodd–in 1997. It was my first poetry workshop; I had entered the MA program at Kansas State thinking I was a fiction writer, only to realize halfway through that the poetry section of my bookshelf was growing, while the fiction section was not. I wasn’t obsessed with fiction; what I was reading aloud, over and over, pacing the floor of my little apartment, was poetry. So I made the leap.
Returning to K-State and Manhattan (The Little Apple, they call it) was a joy: Elizabeth, ever generous and dedicated; the remarkable (seriously) landscape of the Flint Hills; the young, energetic English Department faculty (me: “It seems that the department has gotten a lot younger”; Elizabeth: “Well, you’ve gotten a lot older”); and the students, just as I remembered them: humble, talented, utterly genuine.
And from one of those students, this write-up, posted to the KSU Creative Writing Program’s Tumblr. It’s a charming and honest piece. I remember the conversation well; it was great fun. I was grateful for the opportunity to talk poetry with a smart and thoughtful student.