from tiger to prayer introduction
This little book is in the world because talented and remarkable graduates of Hamline University’s MFA Program asked me to consider it. These women launched broadcraft press, and the books they have published are unique, beautifully designed, memorable. I could not resist the kind invitation.
I teach many poems, and have, every week for many years. I live a life sustained and deepened by my relationship to the poems of others, and by my own efforts to write poems. It is as natural to me as breathing to read a poem written by another and to imagine myself in to the lines, the images, the possible meaning of that poem. It is natural for me to offer suggestions to my students, to suggest all sorts of possibilities — ways for them to create titles, find structure, track memories, follow a path of images to a place where they can be, and write their own poems.
I imagine this small book riding in backpacks, purses, inside folders, glove compartments, residing in small drawers of small night tables, jammed between coffee cups on a dining room table, the coffee cups holding pens, pencils, scissors, paperclips, and colored pencils. I imagine different kinds of people opening this book, considering the ideas suggested, trying one idea, or ten, or reading the book through, and just remembering they have it tucked away for those odd, particular days, when one must write, but cannot find the door to walk through, cannot find the words to begin.
I hope this book is a good door to walk through for writers of all genres. For years at Hamline University, and The Loft Literary Center, and in adjunct work at the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas, my classes have been full of wonderful writers of fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry. I have taught long enough, and written long enough, to have witnessed the beautiful ways ideas, images, and writing challenges jump the boarders some draw between genres.
It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with the women of broadcraft press. Without them, my writing options would only exist scrawled onto handouts in classrooms. This particular set of ideas to write from now has the loveliest home of any of my suggestions offered to students the past forty-three years. My thanks for this opportunity, and for the joy of spending time with Meghan, Kate, and Julia.