Do not board gentle into that good night
As my peers well know, I’ve become fond of the open-air courtyard in the English/Ethnic Studies/Philosophy building known as the Eddy building. I find it’s generally nicer to be outside, but on top of that the courtyard reminds me of a monastery I loved to visit in Bonn when I was living in Germany. In both courtyards, a shape of sky frames beautifully, and the haste outside that courtyard and beyond matters less for being blocked out by a pocket of outsideness. And after all that, the courtyard is an interesting spot for people-watching.
One person that I’ve noticed is this one student, whom a few times I’ve seen push out the single door to escape the end of class with everyone else. Like some others he’s carrying a longboard, and when he makes space from the crowd, he levers it down with a foot, steps on, and leans forward. Zip, he’s off on his electric longboard, leaning passively forward with expressionless face to the droll hum of its motor. I imagine his inner monologue is a single tone much like that motor. He looks bored with life, arms dangling and dead-eyed.
Not to determine this student, I only mean to explain what I see of him. This character is perhaps an archetype of apathy and its consequences or maybe a symbol of technological disengagement from the natural body. In either case, I find myself thinking about this person, even now when I should make time to contemplate my MFA experience. But I am one who often works through negation, so perhaps my image of this student riding while dead-living denotes my fears about the MFA. Will I burn out of life and feeling, only to mutate into this electric longboarder? Eliot is too harsh on the matter—it’s important for poets to feel. Feeling is even necessary motivation toward a poem’s creation, and when you connect with a poem, you feel it. A person finds themselves without feeling and it’s like death.
How then to cultivate feeling? Do I work hard or hardly? Dream or draft? I find one of the most difficult things about writing poetry is achieving the headspace in which to do it. To think through feeling is a happy tornado, for which the conditions were right to create it. As many things are, it is likely a balance of both, in the right proportions, at the right times; and this aim for balance is one of the things that plagues me as a writer. I have come to no certainties on cultivating feeling, though maybe that is a gift of in/frequent rediscovery. I hope the fact of my questioning this is a sign that I will not board gentle into that good night. Let’s hope so.