When I first rode the T last Friday, coming from South Station into Cambridge for the first time since mid-January, I was struck with a sense of remembrance for the extreme promise and excitement I felt when living and learning within this mecca of intelligence, artistry and literature.
True, Cambridge is one of the main literary centers of the world, and Boston-Cambridge-MetroWest is one of the most literate and well-read areas of the world, but just coming off the T into this world is like entering a totally new world. It's shape is different--Victorians juxtaposed with crowded streets, MIT and Harvard students ambling from building to building, runners and dog walkers stuffing the sidewalks, and casual tourists snapping photos of everything they deem noteworthy or photo-worthy.
My problem though is seeing everything in poetry. The scream of the T as it slides from track to track between stops is poetic. As is the homeless man who holds a sign in the opposite direction, but his half-full can in mine (intentional on both counts). Everything seems to breathe life into me--into my poetry. I'm feeling unbridled and too jittery (and not just from the coffee) to sit still in seminars. I want to be in a writing circle right now.
If we were forced into a room to write for 12 hours--given some food and beverages here and there--it could be one of the most successful half-days of my life. Poetry is nearly tangible here. Metaphor is palpable (also a metaphor).
And in living this life, I'm left wondering how much of this I can take before I stop paying attention to what's happening around me and start focusing again solely on my work? Will my concentration continue unabated (not as it did last year when I was laid off immediately after the residency and had my world upended violently) for a full year (as I plan to defer my next semester because of full-time teaching)?
All I can do is hope this feeling stays with me and I continue to see everything in terms of poetry. My mind seems sharper and more intelligent while I'm here. I feel like less is impossible.
It's a treat to be able to be here and to have the opportunity to write for not only a hobby, but potentially a career, as being a great reader and writer can only make a trained teacher a better teacher.
I learn more each moment I am here and feel guilty for taking a five minute break right now to blog. Yes, I feel compelled and/or obligated to report on my status, but I feel the same way about returning to my notebook of five recently begun poems, and trying to hammer another few before I focus for an hour on them tonight on the train.
This residency is cathartic, uplifting, invigorating and fulfilling. It's the type of environment I wish I could be surrounded in everyday--is this how I'll feel teaching? How literature and/or writing teachers feel? If being surrounded by learning, writing and literature can feel this fulfilling and 'perfect,' I hope I can only be as lucky as to experience it everyday for the remainder of my life.