BEDA Day 29: Poetry

Hey guys. It's late, as usual, and I'm gonna keep this a little brief today. Because I don't want to bore you with the details of studying and finals, because I'm starting to realize I talk of little else, and honestly who cares? Instead I want to talk about my poetry class, which I was convinced I would hate, but ended up genuinely changing my life. It was the type of experience in which I learned just the right things at just the right time. I met people who told me exactly what I needed to hear. I learned how to express myself in new ways just when I needed to express myself most. Because my professor is likely leaving JMU after this semester, and some astounding people in my class are about to graduate, and if I had taken any other class or if I put off taking "ENG392: Intro to Poetry" for one more semester, my life would be entirely different. It's the type of cosmic thing that makes you think God definitely exists, how else can you explain this? 

We walked into our last class and just chatted, as usual. We often get into conversations about the writing life, social injustices that inspire us, and the day-to-day happenings of undergrad. So that was nothing new. Then my professor, easily one of the most impressive, intelligent people I've ever met, shepherded the class outside. She asked us earlier that week to bring in one of our own poems to read aloud, because she wanted to hear everyone's voice one last time.

She took us to a sunny patch of grass near the library, where we sat criss-crossed in a circle, fifteen eager faces meandering over one another's defining features. I, sat immediately next to my professor, kept looking over at the canvas tote bag she brought with her in addition to her purse, wondering what was inside.

We started by doing a quick meditation. Five minutes of intentional breathing and relaxation, during which time I didn't care who was to walk by and laugh at the group of hippies with their eyes shut and fingertips purposefully rooted in the grass. Then she turned to me, asking me to kick off the reading. I had a feeling that would happen. Taking a nervous inhale, I read aloud a poem I wrote this week, though it's far from done. When I finished reading, she smiled and said, "so now, I want someone to say one thing they appreciate about Lauren." Then a girl I sat next to all semester mentioned something about my vocabulary being good (ironically, I can't think of a better word than "good" right now) and I smiled and said thank you. I was too busy looking at my classmate that I didn't see my professor grab a book of poems from her tote bag.

"You and I have had discussions about how you want to work on concision in your work, and in your life. I picked out this book, because I think it'll really inspire you and help you with that."

She gave me a book from her personal library. To keep forever. She thought critically about me as a poet and as a person. And she did that for every individual in the class. Someone would read a poem, we would praise them, and then she would present them with a book she hand-picked from her collection.

"I picked this for you because this poet was a dancer, just like you."

"I picked this because you write a lot about the idea of time in your work, as does this poet."

"You've dealt with a lot of grief, so I thought this book of poetry would help you work through that."

Honestly, how she's so amazing I don't know. How she lives her life with such intention and grace I'll forever be amazed by. Damn, how she walks around without toppling over from all the knowledge she carries in her head is astonishing.

I'm glad to have witnessed it. I'm glad to have shared in it. I'm glad to have been thought of with such regard but someone so remarkable.


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