a ten or twenty year walk, maybe

Many university students I’ve worked with have been stuffed to the gills with words and texts and complexities, various theories of writing and what constitutes significant thought and therefore significant work. Some of them want to be writers, but they can barely get one of their own words in edgewise amongst the many prescriptions, what they are and are not ‘supposed’ to write about. I feel for them; understandably, some of them are afraid to think and write and read for themselves...

Some of the students are writing poetry. Sometimes their poetry is incomprehensible. They are being taught that writing must be ‘complex’ to be good. It must not betray too much emotion. It must not record in an open, transparent way states or experiences that are deeply emotional. (Honest emotion is also passé? Mon dieu! What can this possibly mean?) Poetry must refer to technology and science in order to be relevant to our technological postmodern age. But, why? That’s not what poetry is really good at, in my opinion; poetry does not have to prove itself in that way (scientifically, postmodernly) to be worthwhile. My advice to these new poets is to leave their universities and go for a long walk. (A ten or twenty year long walk, maybe.)

- Karen Connelly, from an excellent Q+A (light on the Q, heavy on the A) with Shawna Lemay over at Canadian Poetries. The Vehicule Press blog has another great excerpt here, and you can read the whole Q+A here.

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