What kind of people are in a graduate poetry program? Is it all hipsters? People straight out of college? Starving artists? All of the above? None of the above?
I got some insight on this question when my girlfriend came into town to meet my “poetry friends” for the first time. We went to a reading at Dolly Lemke’s apartment (The Dollhouse Series, which is wonderful) on Friday night and then to something approximating the opposite of the poetry program, the Michigan vs. Northwestern football game. I probably asked her what she thought of my poetry friends at the event but I asked her again while we were at the game (the tailgate, actually) which was perhaps a better context for comparison.
I thought she was pretty close to the truth: it’s about what one would expect. There are a lot of relatively artistic people when compared to, say, the scene around a football tailgate. It’s not like everyone is intimidatingly artistic either, though. There may be more tattoos than you’re used to, depending on where you’re from.
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This also came in the wake of a discussion I had at a friend’s house surrounding the Occupy Wall Street movement. It was interesting to get everyone’s opinion about the issues that are going on in this country. Personally, my background is in economics, so I cannot help but see things through that lens. I felt like my position was a little bit different form those of my peers, but everyone was really open, conversation was fluid, and it was a very worthwhile event.
Constantly, while I was there, I thought to myself “this is the kind of thing that happens in graduate school: people sitting around a table for the express purpose of discussing politics without getting nasty about it.” It’s just another part of my life blending in with my Columbia experience.