Sunday, August 5, 2012

Anam Cara Writing Retreat - Day 1

What is it about teaching that makes me so nervous? After all, I've taught fulltime for more than a decade. Perhaps it's that I'm teaching poetry in Ireland --- Ireland --- the land of poets. Perhaps it's because poetry is the mainstay of my life and so I must find a way to be my best self and smarter than I believe myself to be. Perhaps I care very much that my students benefit from their experience.

I feel so lucky to have a group of incredibly interesting and talented women to work with from different countries, continents, and representing varied life experiences. One thing I've learned from teaching here at Anam Cara Artists Retreat and at Poets on the Coast is that place trumps person. Here's what I mean: I will do my best to provide interesting classes but more than half the experience happens due to place: the cows bellowing in the fields, the crocosmia wild along the edge of the road, the ever changing theater of the sky.

Now that I've taught one full day, done my first one-on-one consultation and prepped for tomorrow's three hour class, I can breathe more easily. I'm no longer the lone cow standing on the beach but instead part of a vibrant community of writers. All I need to do is offer some guidance and then get out of the way. I am finally in the moment, comfortable with the routine of sharing poems, reading poems in order to get at craft questions, and writing together. All sorts of other questions come up in conversation and we find ourselves talking about favorite novels or where a poem comes from. Instead of being nervous about whether I'm up to the job, I am wondering which place in Ireland, or Italy, or India I might teach in next.


  1. I wanted to see what crocosmia looked like. How beautiful they must be growing wild along roadsides.

    Ireland seems like the perfect place to talk poetry. One day I hope to visit there.

  2. Thanks, Maureen;
    I believe this is a country that values poetry. I've seen poetry sections with living poets in every bookshop I've visited. Even the restaurants and cafes have poetry in some places. I hope that you make it here one day; Anam Cara would be a good place to land.

  3. Wow! What an amazing life you lead, Susan. XO

  4. As do you dear friend. As do you!