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Just wow.

I attended a poetry reading at the University of Baltimore tonight. I wasn't certain if I was going to enjoy it or not, because I've been to some good poetry readings and I've been to some really NOT good poetry readings. Still, it was going to be an opportunity to meet with some of the faculty for the Creative Writing program so I could handle anything.

But, I was not expecting what I heard this evening.

The department had invited Patricia Smith, who is a performance poet. Which in a nutshell means she writes poetry to be read not just to be collected in a book. She's a dynamic performer who had the audience enraptured by her opening poem about a sixth-grade class where everyone in the class has lost someone (father, mother, brother, sister) to AIDS, murder or drug abuse and the hope that they gave to her after she met them. She now does a workshop with that school every year and has gotten to know the kids as they grew up and moved on, but that first class has always stuck with her.

She had some outrageously funny poems about the arrogance of airline pilots, an old barber as he gossiped about everyone as he worked on a Saturday morning and how a band she used to perform with used to sit around and discuss what kind of fame they really wanted. However, she also could do powerful stuff, to include the poem, "34", about the 34 people who died in the nursing home in New Orleans when the staff abandoned them to the flood waters. It was a long piece, with 34 stanzas, but she wanted to give each person a moment to be a "human" rather than just a statistic on a sheet somewhere.

I had the opportunity to visit with her toward the end and I definitely think I'll be looking up her books here in the very near future. Her newest book, "Blood Dazzler", is a collection of poems related to Hurricane Katrina and if the rest of the book is as powerful as the two she read us tonight, it'll in turns infuriate, delight and humble the reader.

After it was all over, I did get a chance to speak to a couple of the instructors, to include the head of the MFA program. The general consensus is, given my age, life experience, professional credits and the 4.0 GPA I had at Howard Community College, they're pretty certain the University will overlook my "lack of discipline" back in 1977-82 when I got my Bachelors. What they're more concerned with is a 20 page writing sample and my letters of recommendation from former professors.

OH, and there's no requirement to take the GRE for this MFA program.

Let's just say, given the meeting tonight, the cost factor, and the fact they're the only one of the three that wouldn't make me take the GRE (again) moves them to the top of my list. Sure, they don't have quite the name recognition that a John Hopkins has, but that's one of the least of my concerns.

I mean, Central Missouri doesn't have the same panache that a Princeton has, but strangely enough, I work with a guy who went there and we make roughly the same amount of money and neither of us is working in our major field anyway. From what I can see, the only real difference is it cost me about 1/10th of what it did him to get that degree. *grin*

Oh, and I did get some writing done after I got home. Added 1099 words to Childhood's Tears.

Words for Today

1099 / 1000 words. 110%

Progress on Childhood's Tears

33353 / 90000 words. 37%

Words for 2008

117832 / 366000 words. 32%

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March 2017


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