I am a long way from becoming a good poet
I am much closer, however, to becoming a good person. I thought about this during my graduation ceremony last weekend in Port Townsend, Washington where I celebrated the completion of a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Goddard College.
Goddard is a wonderful place to both teach and learn. As an Education Program faculty member at Goddard, I feel tremendous gratitude for the opportunity I have to teach teachers. In many ways I feel as if I have found a home here at Goddard because this is where I wish to reside as I do my work in the world.
It is here at Goddard where I find the opportunities and connections that support me to enact my beliefs. It is here at Goddard that I find the inspiration and encouragement to engage in the kind of research and service that transforms self and society—and it is this transformation that is revolutionary; it is what remains critical to my developing story as teacher, poet, and person.
As a learner at Goddard, during the last 2.5 years I was a benefactor of the compassionate and expert tutelage of faculty advisor/poets Beatrix Gates and Elena Georgiou. In Bea and Elena’s support, along with the profound learning experiences facilitated at the MFAW residencies, I was given the guidance, instruction, and challenge that helped me grow into a person who believed in herself and who valued her own story.
The Goddard MFAW program offered me an opportunity to grow academically, emotionally, and spiritually. As a result, I found and used my voice in ways that I did not think possible.
Although words are what I studied, practiced, and promoted during my time in the Goddard College Creative Writing program, I can freely admit that there are really no words that seem adequate in describing what it means to be the woman I am at this time and stage of my life: one who finally finds herself willing and able to tell her own story. My time as a Goddard student has helped me find the courage, clarity, and integrity to use my words to honor my self, my experience, and my message.
It makes sense that it would be involvement in continuing education and graduate studies that would lead me here. I am an educator, after all, and I believe that education is liberatory in nature and the “practice of freedom” (bell hooks).
So with that in mind, my newly acquired MFA from Goddard College is much more than a degree; it is more than a diploma that joins the others hanging on my office wall. It is, rather, a proclamation that I am free from the silence that plagued my story. It is an admission that although I once struggled to find the power to speak my truth, I did something to change that. Doing something to change that means I willingly participated in my own transformation and in doing this, yes, that means I am a better person because of it.
So, back to my path to becoming a good poet, well, that is yet to be determined. To be one, as Micheline Aharonian Marcom shared in the graduation’s keynote address, I must “do the work” — and do the work, I will.