The summer between the first and second year of an MFA program feels important. It feels like growth is supposed to happen; you’ve been working to grow so much as an artist in terms of trying new techniques, and then in the summer you really work to get a ton of work down and start to harvest some fruit from the stuff you’ve been trying. Or at least that’s how I’m looking at it. Maybe I’m alone there.
It’s also an adventure in terms of figuring out what to do with yourself. Money, of course, is important, as is job experience, which can help you get employed once the graduate program is over. Sometimes people forget that, but you shouldn’t.
At any rate, the question “what are you doing this summer” has been popping up a lot lately.
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The picture above is from my mother’s law office in Detroit. I came home to celebrate my sister’s engagement and spend some time with my family. I hadn’t been home in a while, and this really just feels like a good time to spend a week at home.
At the same time, the picture at the top of this post is my current reading obsession. No, this isn’t a philosophy program, but just about everything can be of interest to a poet, and right now my interest is making it through these major philosophers. I’m currently trying to work out Hegel, who Bertrand Russell calls “the hardest philosopher to understand” in The History of Western Philosophy (which I’ve read). The fact that Bertrand thinks it’s hard is good, because I’m having a really hard time and also really enjoying it.
I think a lot of the “what are you doing questions” really came back to “what are you reading” among my peers, because for poets, I think “what are you reading” really means “what are you thinking about,” and that’s about as far a question to ask as “how are you” in our circle. It works. I’ll let you know if I figure out whatever Hegel’s on about. Not that I’ll try to explain it; just a thumbs up or down.