ASMP: Week 1

hello friends, companions, travelers, and aliens (…perhaps?)

this post is a day late, but i wanted to write it anyways. as you can tell by the title, i’m currently in a mentorship program hosted by the lovely The Adroit Journal, so i wanted to do a weekly post as the program progressed.

some background info: i’m studying under the awesome poet claire schwartz

this week: no poem due, no peer mentor review due. emphasis of readings were to prep us for peer mentor reviews of other mentees’ poems, which i really look forward to.

readings were a mix of informational readings, essays, and poems. here are some of my favorite passages, findings, & notes i took:


3 false assumptions when reading poetry:

  • people should understand what the poem means on the first try
  • a poem is some kind of code with one word/passage corresponding to only one thing
  • a poem can mean anything readers want it to mean

read a poem out loud

reading a poem: a game or a sport

embrace ambiguity

“I write because I believe in the unquestionable power of novels, that poetry can change a life, perhaps not in one sweeping moment of profound epiphany, but like the words we chisel into a page, our world, and the experiences we make from it, is change through time, through that steady erosion and resurfacing of meaning” – Ocean Vuong

“”This [writing] is required pain and suffering.”, “First, try to be anything else [other than a writer].”, “The only happiness you have is writing something new, in the middle of the night, armpits damp, heart pounding, something no one has seen yet.”, “You only have those brief, fragile, untested moments of exhilaration when you know you are a genius.”, “Later in life, you will understand that writers are merely open, helpless texts with no real understanding of what they have written and therefore must half-believe anything and everything that is said.” – How to Be A Writer

“If poems could be anything at all, then why is the default to cringe whenever someone writes about their feelings?… Even worse if that someone is a teenager?”, “But I want elegies while I’m still alive… and most of all–feelings.” – Jenny Zhang, from “How It Feels”

“I can tell you now / that I tried to take it all in, record it / for an elegy I’d write — one day — / when the time came. Your daughter, / I was that ruthless.” – Natasha Trethewey, from “Elegy [I think by now the river must be thick]


on another note, i got to skype call my mentor a couple days ago (!!) & i was a nervous mess, but it went really well! we talked about writing & mostly the readings from this week (super cool, mentally challenging/stimulating), as well as any questions i had (a decent amount). by the end of the call, i was able to understand a few parts/lines of the poem better, and i also learned to trust all the feelings while reading a poem (ex: confusion, distance). something really cool claire mentioned was all the different ways to enter a poem, whether it’s through sound, words, line, etc.

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