Color My Rut Blown

Yesterday was the last day for the online class, “Writing Outside the Rut,” developed to inspire poets at all levels us to connect to their unconscious minds. Our group was Level 10 GGG (good, giving and game), and their poems blew my face off, like this one by MJ Santiago. The prompt was based on Lauren Haldeman’s mirror poems.

This was some risky writing. Thank you, group, for engaging in such an engaging way, and trusting me with your work. I hope you had as much fun as I did!

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Jennifer KnoxComment
Au Revoir, Wonderful Otter Woman

I've yet to say goodbye to Marie Ponsot, who was so open and generous and welcoming. She was the first teacher who really saw me. She was never effusive or a smoke blower, she was simply brilliant and seemed to delight in watching people think on the page. She knew what I was doing when I didn't, AND she knew I had no idea what I was doing! "You're a satirist," she told me. "I am?"


No matter how weird my poems got, at 81 years-old, she was impossible to buck off. One of my favorites memories of her is very visual, so I hope I can convey it. During her office hours, I brought in an early draft of "Mighty Mighty Primate: Reconsidered," which turned out to be the first poem in my first book. She read the first few stanzas with her brow knit, suddenly smiled at the page, then up at me. "You had me scared for there for a minute."


"I couldn't imagine how you were going to get out of it."

She read from the poem aloud: "The part where I was lashed to the ship deck with chains in a typhoon..." she paused "...made me..." here she paused for a long time, smirking like Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair, her head trembling slightly on her neck "...cry."

Her face, right there, getting all of it. Part otter. I'm no scientist, but I can't imagine the force that drove that brain ever goes dark.

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Jennifer KnoxComment
Linda Umans versus the Zombies!

Linda Umans penned a draft of this unforgettable zombie poem in my "Writing Poems that Kill" class last year, and now it's up at Queen Mob's Teahouse with more great poems! Tho I have to admit I'm partial to zombies. How great is that last line: "Wait up. I’m walking."

In the class we discussed mass psychogenic illness in the workplace —because work is where mass psychotic events are more likely to occur—esp in manufacturing environments—than zombies per se. No big surprise here but financially stressed women are more likely to be participants in mass psychotic events, and they consistently report experiencing absolutely no symptoms at all. A lack of clearly defined leadership also seems to be a factor. Poor zombies.

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Jennifer KnoxComment
Ada Limón's "The Carrying" wins the 2019 National Book Critic Circle Award...

and I am fixing to bust about it. The Carrying has brought beautiful Big Feels to people all over the world.

Ada and I met in grad school at NYU like this: I was in the women’s locker room at the gym. I had just put on my bathing suit, swim cap and nose plug, and was about to walk out the door to the swimming pool—suddenly Ada, also in s bathing suit and swim cap, hopped in front of me and said, “No! That’s not the door to the pool!” In my memory of this, her voice is high and fast, like a cartoon chipmunk. It turns out I was about to walk onto the men’s basketball court, right in the middle of a game. That was the first, but not the last, time Ada saved my life. Lala, you’re my Wonder Woman.

Jennifer KnoxComment