I had brunch today with a student I taught many years ago. She is presently getting her PhD at Columbia in NY in English (Modern poetry and 19th c literature of the Americas). Her orals are in April and then she will begin work on her dissertation. It will take about three years for her to complete it. She is teaching undergraduate courses at Columbia which she really likes and is thinking that high school or middle school might be the place she eventually wants to teach.
After about an hour of conversation catching up with her life in New York, the logistics and details of her PhD, her feelings about teaching and how to engage students, and books we were reading, I asked her if she were still writing poetry. This is when her old middle school personality appeared, shy and reticent, looking down at the table with a wide grin on her face.
“I guess that means no.”
“I have been writing a bit but not consistently.”
“You know all the issues and quandaries we have just been talking about might be great fodder for your poetic spirit to grapple with.”
“Yes. I need to write everyday. PhD land tends to make those parts disappear for a while.”
And then we parted with promises to stay in touch.