Cultivating Belief

By Robin Walter September 28, 2018  |  Uncategorized  |  no responses

I am writing this post with two bags of apples— one red, the other green— on my countertop. I have sincere plans to make apple butter, cranberry apple-sauce, apple turnovers, and no fewer than three apple pies. Likely, though, I will feed both bags of apples to the doe deer that steps delicately through my backyard in the mornings.

This is as apt a metaphor as any for what I have found graduate study to be. We have the best laid plans for poems, for letters, for lesson plans; all too soon we abandon them, do what we can, do our best to write truthfully and read thoughtfully, and take stock of the harvest. It is fall after all, reminding us that what we planted in the moment before this will come into being one way or another, if not in the shape we had first imagined.

I’m reminded of how lucky it is to find and keep company with friends who generously and genuinely extend their eyes and their hearts to one another’s work. I feel truly grateful to watch peers grapple with projects that are bold and brave, and humbled to have the opportunity to lend them encouragement in the process. It is so very heartening to step into a world in which attention to detail and intention with words matter.

I am new to this community, and still learning its depth; it seems clear to me that each person in this program possesses a genuine capacity for belief. Belief in art, belief in words, belief in one another to practice and realize our respective crafts.

I am writing this post on the heels of Dr. Ford’s testimony against Kavanaugh in court, and am reminded that belief is not a thing we can take for granted, but rather, it is something we need desperately to practice, both as a society and as individuals. The page seems as good a place as any to start.


Of the three pies I plan to make, it is likely only one will get made. Of all of the poems I had hoped to write this semester, I’ll be lucky if a quarter of them find ink. I won’t even venture a guess here about what will become of my lesson plans.

Even so, the deer in my backyard will eat two bags of apples, I will be surrounded by beautiful friends who share a belief in words, the courts will do what courts do, and fall will keep on coming.

I recently received a letter from a friend in the program who spoke beautifully to our collective endeavor to find the right words and arrange them on the page. His note extended beyond the individual poem at hand, and seems directly applicable to the larger work we do as poets. He wrote, “We are not settling into disorder for disorder’s sake, but trying to essai forth from a place of barest necessity, in the hope that we might find the circumference of some otherwise inaccessible idea/event/truth.”

Robin Walter

Robin is a first-year MFA candidate in poetry.

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