Every so often, life’s rhythms take their course.
Back in May 2015, a chance encounter at Hedgebrook VORTEXT connected me with Rebecca Wallwork and her blog The MFA Project, where up until last week I’ve been contributing as an interview editor. Initially started by Rebecca as a quest to earn an MFA in creative writing without the sticker shock of a degree, the blog was my practice in talking to writers, asking for “homework assignments” on behalf of “students” who are trying to write without the structure and support of an MFA program, and mining for the writers' wisdom on the creative life. After a time, as my particular interest in poetry grew and I began exploring ways to support my own learning as a poet, Rebecca and I arrived at the clarity that I needed to launch my own project.
And so welcome to Primal School, where the work I began at The MFA Project continues in its poetry incarnation, and if you’re visiting here because of AWP, thanks for taking time to check out a site that’s still in its infancy. I gave AWP the below description of Primal School, an abbreviated version of which will appear on their FB page:
Primal School features online interviews with established and emerging poets in which they discuss a single poem they have written, shedding light on that poet’s process and artistic vision. Inspired in part by Poetry In Person, Alexander Neubauer’s collection of Pearl London’s conversations with leading poets at the New School from the 1970s-1990s, the blog seeks to be a home on the web for students of poetry who are not affiliated with an MFA program or are otherwise self-taught. Additional content on the site includes audio clips, posts on the craft of poetry, interviews with poets about their educational journeys, reading recommendations, and their advice about the writing life.
As an online resource, Primal School’s vision is to democratize access to poetic education by bringing tools and learning opportunities to the web drawn from the MFA or writing seminar, but repackaged for a wider audience. Its mission is to spotlight poets of all backgrounds and styles, explore the inner workings of their poetic process in accessible language, and uncover the multitude of a ways a poem comes into being.
For a more detailed (and still-evolving) overview, you can visit the site's About page.
I'm still in the early phase of ideas with Primal School as I seek out other poets and students of poetry and ask what they would like to see offered on the blog that would be useful to them and that isn’t being done elsewhere. And as part of that process, I’ll be at tabling at the AWP Bookfair in Los Angeles March 30-April 2, 2016. If you’re at the conference and interested in what’s happening here, come by Table 116, where I’ll be camping out with Brooke McIntyre of Inked Voices, the online community for writing and critique groups.
Whether you’re a poet who teaches or a newcomer to poetry who's looking for your tribe, I'm excited to connect with you. And thanks again for your interest.