In Waiting, In Company: A Welcome from the Creative Writing Director

By Sasha Steensen August 24, 2018  |  Uncategorized  |  no responses

The first few days of the semester have been crisp and cool, as if the Colorado landscape itself has been doing its part to usher in our Fall semester. It has been a whirlwind of a beginning for me, as I sent my oldest off to middle school, my youngest off to fourth grade, and taught my first graduate workshop of the semester all in one day. Today, Thursday, August 23rd, 2018, the warm air has returned and it reminds me that, in our beautiful state, change is always blowing our way, off the foothills. During my campus interview over thirteen years ago, someone said something that would soon become cliché: “if you don’t like the weather in Colorado, wait five minutes.” It is this waiting space that I want to inhabit for a moment. As we are rushing around, settling in, trying to enjoy the last breath of summer, I am longing to rest, to listen, to wait.

My thirteen years at CSU have flown by, in part because I have been surrounded by beauty ever since I arrived, and I am not just talking about the mountains. My colleagues and my students have consistently reminded me that this is a place full of beauty, generosity, thoughtfulness, community. Perhaps that is why I want to rest, to wait in this moment, to slow time, to listen. On Monday, my graduate students and I discussed the act of listening, an act central to the poet. The poet has always been called to listen, to the divine, to the muses, to language itself. W.H. Auden was in the habit of asking aspiring poets why they wanted to write poetry. He wrote, “If the young man answers, ‘I have important things I want to say,’ then he is not a poet. If he answers, ‘I like hanging around words listening to what they say,’ then maybe he is going to be a poet.” I am a woman who wants to be a poet, and I love to be around others who also want to be poets, so we can listen to words together. This is what Robert Creeley meant when he talked about being “in company.”

The work of listening requires patience, and that can be especially hard to muster at the beginning of the semester when we are simultaneously anxious to get on with our own work and pulled into the bustle of orientations, parties, readings, and classes. My hope is that, in the coming weeks, we might find some time to be in this waiting space, and that we might find it not only in solitude, but also in one another’s company.

 

Sasha Steensen

Sasha.Steensen@colostate.edu

Sasha Steensen is the author of four books of poetry, most recently House of Deer (Fence Books), and Gatherest (Ahsahta Press). She has published several essays including Openings: Into Our Vertical Cosmos at essay Press (http://www.essaypress.org/ep-40/) and Pure Shame (Interim).  She is a poetry editor for Colorado Review and she teaches at Colorado State University.

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