I have arrived; not just in New York but at Sarah Lawrence, where I am a student of poetry with an ID card and my own postbox and a timetable full of creative delights, soon to be tasted.
This week has been a flurry of finding tutors’ offices, talking, reading, thinking and designing a programme for myself. It’s four years since I left Goldsmiths and I never expected to go back to school; was impatient to enter what my little sister now calls ‘actual life’. In that time, I discovered another education – that of knowing poets and artists, working with them; balancing jobs, headspace and finances with my own (at first tentative) writing and creative practice.
Both educations have brought me here; the formal and the one given for the love by the London page-performer-teacher poets, the City Limits artists in Singapore and Peter Kahn’s spoken word programme in Chicago (also the one given unknowingly, by the young people I’ve worked with). This education has been so rich that for a long time I saw no reason at all to study for a masters. In fact I was sceptical of the idea altogether. But arriving at Sarah Lawrence feels like the coming together of both ways of learning.
Next week I will take a poetry workshop with Marie Howe; a class in movement for performance with David Neumann. I’ll begin a course in ‘Collaborative Contemporary Performance’ with theatre graduates and have my first go at Alexander Technique. Yes, this is a degree in poetry, but I’m allowed to make it look any way I want. I can play, work solidly on the page and see where I might want performance and collaboration to take me. I’ll also be taking courses of my own devising – sneaking about in New York poetry, meeting Urban Word, going to the real live Moth and dancing in Harlem, to name a few. This is my actual life and my thanks to Fulbright, Bunac and all those who got me here will have to be shown, not told.
Perhaps it’s becoming obvious that I’m typing this while listening to the Democratic convention speeches. Just for a moment I’m going to give way to the optimism and the song of achievement and celebrate my being here.
Now, to work.