Becoming Poets

“In image, poetry contracts…and expands. In a crumb, you can find ruminations on life and love.” Yuki Tanaka, winner of the 2018 Frost Place Chapbook Competition and third-year MFA student at the Michener Center, kicked off Austin Bat Cave’s fall lineup of adult writing classes with these words and asked students to introduce themselves and talk about their relationship with poetry. Most students admitted they were not poets but were excited to explore something new. With that, Yuki took the class through a number of poems as object lessons and led discussions on imagery and rhythm. From the conversations that followed and our students offering rich examinations and analysis of each poem, you wouldn’t guess that the participants were relative newcomers to poetry.

At the end of day one, students were assigned homework: write an ekphrastic poem and share it with the class. As most writers know, workshop can be a nerve-wracking experience. Sending your work out to your peers—a pack of ravenous wolves ready to tear into your writing with soul-crushing recklessness. But as students read their work and the group dove into workshop-style discussion, the same thoughtfulness and care was employed as had been the day before.

Amongst sections from King Lear and poems from Elizebeth Bishop and Yusef Komunyakaa, our student’s poems held their own and belonged.

As Yuki explained to us on day one, poetry expands and contract. It can be many things—large and small—at once. You might not think of yourself as a poet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be. Our intrepid group of writers may not have identified as poets on the first day, but by the end, they certainly demonstrated their ability to branch out into new genres and forms.

Interested in attending an adult writing workshop with Austin Bat Cave? Check out our fall lineup here!