Classy Talk with Samar Abulhassan | Fall 2014

Posted Mon, 9/08/2014 - 1:22pm by  |  Category:

Abulhassan Bio PicWhat is the title of your class?

Lighting the Long Roots: Making Poems of Home

What’s one thing you hope your students will take away from the class? 

Startling, fresh networks into long-forgotten chambers of “home.”  Home not as static dwelling but wild states we carry inside, meant to be written into, imagined, reconfigured. We will study our hands, draw maps, shape-shift on the page, have illuminating dialogues with our younger and older selves. While slanted toward poetry, this would be a deeply fun class for prose writers as well.

What sorts of writers will you be reading/assigning in class? Why? 

I proposed this class after attending a memorial reading, last year, of the beautiful poet Kim-An Lieberman (“Only then did the sky open it’s sudden true hand.”) Her poems reach into her roots, are full of mythology and imagination.  We’ll also read from local poet Christine Deavel’s beautiful “Woodnote.” Other poets who will inspire us: Dana Levin, W.S. Merwin, Marie Howe, Adrienne Rich, Ruth Stone.

Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how?

I am on Facebook!

Are any of your works online and available to the public?

My Dusie chapbooks are all available online, as well as this poem “of home” from last spring:

What’s your teaching philosophy?

I encourage relentless experimentation and stumbling. I am a big collector of fragments. I think we write to recover our natural voice, so a big part of teaching is stripping away what’s worn-out, artificial. I sometimes encourage students to work very swiftly, particularly for first drafts, before too much thinking interferes.

What advice do you have about getting into the habit of writing regularly?

Experiment with atmosphere. Light a candle, brew a cup of tea, find the perfect corner, or seashore. I have a friend who likes to write in karaoke bars. Find out what makes you relax so that the raw natural can emerge. In the spirit of this class, a nighttime writing habit might be suggested, because I think ‘home’ and ‘night’ dance together.

What are you working on right now? Where did the idea come from?

I just finished participating in a month-long postcard poem project. I think daily practice is vital. I am collecting a lot of notes from dance performances right now for making choreography for the page — I want to be a gymnast-acrobat but with words.

What’s your favorite word in the English vocabulary?

I love so many words—each word is poem! Today it is “dusk.” I love one-syllable words and my favorite kind of light is twilight. But “dusk” also rinses itself clean in my hands; it remains foreign.

Let’s talk writing inspiration—what’s the No. 1 thing that drives you to write? 

Freedom and well-being. I am less rattled by the wild spectacle of emotion and daily challenges when I am writing.