Welcome from Amy D. Unsworth

Language, Literature, Learning & Life.




Non-Traditional

It's been said that I'm "non-traditional" poet, but I'm not certain I know what would make me "non-traditional." I'm probably very traditional, as in I read the canon, and want to know about craft, and think John Donne was a damn fine poet. After I graduated from college, I didn't go to a writing program, perhaps that's what the tradition is. Nor did I get to go tour Europe or even Canada for a year. Ah well. I'm certainly a "non-traditional" student, as I've returned after ten years of traditional wife & mother roles. But, ten years out of academic work doesn't mean I haven't been reading, or writing, or thinking about poetry. It took several years away from the university before I realized that I wouldn't be happy without having literature and poetry as part of my intellectual life. I spent several years doing 1950's style volunteering, being in the kids' schools, cutting shapes out of colored paper for teachers and the like. It was good; I felt like I was making a difference in my children's lives. But when poetry began to call again, I realized this, This!! was what I'd been missing. I wrote a poem about still being able to smell the peanut butter when I'd kissed my son goodnight. It was a terrible poem; but suddenly I was writing again. Which launched me into more reading, contemporary work, as well as my old Norton's from school. I always knew I was going back to study literature one day; but the poetry, which had always just been something I did along the way, suddenly reared up and demanded my full attention. I'm indebted to many of you in blog & board land. You helped me gain the confidence I needed to be able to return to school. Thank you; I'm grateful to know you and to travel alongside you.

5 comments:

steve mueske said...

Just out of curiosity, who said you were a non-traditional poet? I'm not even sure I understand the term.

Amy Unsworth said...

Hi Steve,
Well the actual comment from Scoplaw was "another non-trad poet type" and I'm not sure either what would make one "traditional" or "non-traditional" which was what I was attempting to sort out before I started talking about being a "non-traditional" student. And I'm pretty sure about the non-traditional student part :). I think he was talking about the path one takes; which makes more sense that classifying my *writing* as "non-traditional". I'll add that it's rather disheartening to be on the list-serve for "old@ksu. . ."

Roger Pao said...

Hey Amy, I think you're right that scoplaw was talking about "non-traditional" as in "non-traditional student." It's a pretty common term in law school speak. See http://www.nontradlaw.com/. If it's any consolation, students who are really young or have led really interesting lives are also often referred to as non-traditional. :)

steve mueske said...

Hi, Amy. That helps a little. It's probably a contextual thing; it sounds to me like it was tinged with a bit of ironic distance -- not as a monicker.

Amy Unsworth said...

Yep, probably should have just put the question mark after the non-traditional in the title. What does make a poet non-traditional? Is there any such thing as experimental anymore? Are these titles banal and trivial and thus unimportant? Does it do any good at all to try to classify one's writing? Inquiring minds want to know.