Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thoughts on Walt Whitman, Pt. III

Whitman in Class

When people ask me if I've considered going to graduate school for writing, I think about Walt Whitman. I try to imagine him going to grad school for writing. I try to picture a world without the nineteenth-century poet Walt Whitman, in which a graduate student at NYU named Walt Whitman walks into a classroom where his fellow graduate students are about to workshop one of his pieces.

What constructive criticism would they offer him about this passage, for instance?

The cloth laps a first sweet eating and drinking,
Laps life-swelling yolks . . . . laps ear of rose-corn, milky and just ripened:
The white teeth stay, and the boss-tooth advances in darkness,
And liquor is spilled on lips and bosoms by touching glasses, and the best liquor afterward.

1 comment:

At the Tideline said...

The MFA in creative writing still puzzles me. It seems like the worst of all places to learn to write. When I read on a book jacket that the author is the product of a graduate program in writing fiction, I immediately stop being excited about them. Granted, because the universities are often the only place a creative writer can make a living, obtaining an MFA is often more about career advancement than artistic development. At least, one hopes; but it must be difficult to come through a program like that with anything like original voice left over.