Jack Spicer Quote

Permission to get lost

Jack Spicer Quote
If there’s one thing poets love, it’s poetry workshops, and I’m no exception.

I signed up for The Long Poem Workshop with Jay MillAr, a nine-week course through the Toronto New School of Writing. I’d wanted to take it last year, but had a scheduling conflict. I had my first class yesterday, and there are so many repeat students – it’s a pretty impressive group.

Last night we discussed the projects we want to write for this class, and looked at a couple of poems from The New Long Poem Anthology. I learned that I like safe, boring poems, and reconfirmed my distrust of kaleidoscopic language poems I can’t make sense of. These are the limitations I’m working with.

Jay handed out the Jack Spicer quote, which I framed and hung above my desk to remind myself that I don’t necessarily have to know where I’m going as I work on this project. The photo’s a bit fuzzy. It reads:

And you have to go into the serial poem not knowing what the hell you’re doing. That’s the first thing. You have to be tricked into it. It has to be some path that you’ve never seen on a map before. I think all of my books as far as they’re successful have just followed the bloody path to see where it goes, and sometimes it doesn’t go anywhere.

— Jack Spicer, 1965

Up until now my poems have been little things. The longest serial poem I’ve written is three linked brief poems that barely cover a page and a half.

One class in, and already my expectations are being challenged. I’m excited to see where we’ll go from here.

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