Doing Research

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As I mentioned in my prior post, I’ve been starting to think about larger, more long-term projects (dare I even say the word, thesis?) Yes, it’s early, but I’m also very excited as I’ve begun throwing around ideas and doing more research.

I’m reading more books (beyond my course load), which include literary nonfiction, theory, criticism, and poetry. It’s a slow process given how much work I have with my own classes, but reading a short piece every day eats into a pile of reading.

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In an effort to read more poetry, I’ve decided to start each day with reading a poem (or three). Today, I (re)read from Carmen Giménez Smith’s Milk and Filth. As much as I love poetry and respect poets, I’ve never really considered myself much of one. That is something that I would like to change as I begin working towards a larger work. I began experimenting with prose poems last year, and I’m exciting about where this exploration is heading, but I would absolutely love to be better read in terms of poetry.

A couple weeks ago in my Nonfiction Workshop, we had the privilege of speaking with Amy Leach, author of “Things That Are,” and she offered us some valuable advice: read outside your genre.

One of the characteristics I love about Leach’s work is her unique style and diction. She revealed that she often reads work from different genres and centuries, including sermons, theory, and philosophy, and it is obvious that her reading choices influence her distinctive style.

In addition to expanding my reading, I’m also doing some physical research. One of the topics I’m interested in writing about is the mind/body split, so I am paying more attention to the health and movement of my body…unfortunately I also came down with a nasty virus this week, just when I was starting to get into a yoga practice. The body needs rest, so I must listen, but the work doesn’t stop coming, so the mind gets no reprieve!

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Moral of the story: in grad school, don’t get sick, or you will have an exciting weekend that probably looks a little too much like the above photo. Seriously, grad students and grad students-to-be, take care of yourselves. I know students often joke about how terribly unhealthy this lifestyle is, but I can’t stress enough the importance of eating well, exercising, and for the love of everything, getting a good night’s sleep. You can’t produce work and be on top of your academic game if you’re sniffling and sneezing and battling headaches and chills. And while it’s common sense advice, as I work my way into tackling ideas related to the mind/body split, it has become even more central to my life. Here’s hoping for warmer weather, sunshine, and no more sniffles!