Wednesday, December 14, 2005

this evening's episode of poets behaving badly

So it's my last workshop of the semester. My last workshop of the program (the last one ever god willing) and so far, it's going allright. The final four people in a more laid back, snack accompanied setting. Piece of cake, you'd be thinking. Well all went well through our first three poets but something went horribly wrong with the fourth. Now mind you, this is the poet who has always had an issue with the criticism of her work from day one, got into a argument w/ Clayton Eshelmen second semester and dropped his class, who got into a shouting match with another classmate in the hall last spring, and is the one person I can uncategorically admit should never had been allowed into the program given her shoddy talent (of which she is, of course, uber-defensive about). She was far below par in the initial group I came in with, and certainly moreso among the second and first years.) For the last three sessions, she had been bringing in pieces from a longer poem from the serial poems craft class. Now each time, our criticisms would be met by "But last time people said this" or "last time workshop thought I should change it" which bothers me anyway since it's totally innacurate since "workshop", as a whole, rarely agrees on anything. So not only is this the revision of the revision, which is honestly getting sort of tired, but she makes it clear from the start she's not up for our suggestions and not only that, but defensively and bombastically rebuffs each one. The situation is getting highly uncomfortable and awkward at this point and the entire class falls silent while the instructor is still attempting to point out things just aren't working.

It's also getting to be at least ten minutes after class is slated to end and people are starting to fidget, put on their coats talk among themselves, to which we get a stern reprimand from the instructor while she continues to argue with this the poet who keeps replying "I ain't gonna change it.." and "But in the serial poems class, yadda, yadda..." The rest of us are all staring at the floor and trying to get out as quickly as possible I imagine when the instructor says rather pissily and abruptly. "People just go. That's it." Stands up and walks away. Afterwards, we all sort of filed rather silently out of the classroom. THAT was how the semester ended. We know the student is a joke, but I think the professor might have handled the situation a bit better and with a little more authority, and just let it the fuck GO....for gods sake, say "Alrighty then." and dismiss the class a little more politely and less childishly. It seems since she was frustrated with this particular student she chose to take it out on the rest of the class.. And not like we were engaged in any sort of real discussion at that point. Basically we were all sitting there watching the two of them argue about work that's so bad it's pretty much hopeless. Thank you for confirming, on a final explosive note, why workshops fucking suck. And here, given the feedback at least from my fellow students the past couple, I was thinking they might be helpful on some level. Stupid me.


Marissa Spalding said...

amen to that. i am really angry and upset that i had to see so much time just slip from all of us these past 15 weeks. i believe no one's work really improved during this workshop, and on top of that, we all witnessed a blow out from a professor, that should have known better. so much for having my respect. kristy, you rawk, and i am really happy that i'll see you over the break.

Justin Evans said...

My all-time favorite response to criticism in a workshop is, "That's what I was trying to do." as if they had some meta-cognition going on as they composed the piece where they wanted the reader to be confused by the bad line breaks and vague metaphors.