The time spent immersed with veterans across conflicts and generations was without compare. This was so much more than a writing retreat. Yes, there was lots and lots of creative writing. Yes, there was much discussion of craft. Yes, there were word prompts and revision and work shopping of deeply personal moments in the life of someone who just days before was a complete stranger. The biggest gift though was the common thread of respect and mutual regard as veterans. No one had to prove anything. All of us had already “been there, done that.”
I attended in a genre not my usual focal point, poetry. I’ve been spending a large part of this year concentrating on poetry though nonfiction narrative is where my MFA and much of what I publish remains. In part, this has been to return myself to my writing first love and first roots. I’ve considered returning for another MFA, in Poetry, as I don’t feel I have the “poetics” muscle well developed, and lack the scholarly experience the genre seems to demand for an educated discussion within the poetry community. Or perhaps I’m placing too much weight in the academic side of the poetry community. What my experience immersed in poetry this week with four other poets and the wonderful tutelage from North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti gave me was tremendous validation as a poet. That the narratives I write, in poetry or in prose are a means to give voice and that this is a calling I must continue.
On the final night, we all gave readings, please give a listen to my reading of the original poem, When Jenny Comes Marching Home.