Without Poetry

Last week, due to financial necessity, administrators at Johns Hopkins University axed the poetry concentration in the MA in Writing Program. Why would I, a student in the Fiction track, care? Why should you care? by Linda Simoni-Wastila

Without poetry, the music of words favors a steadier bass beat, ta-dum ta-dum, the steady march to climax or resolution, rather than the lyrical upsweep or denouement of a stanza, the melody of alliteration and assonance.

Without poetry, the shape of work takes a singular approach, one that relies on the paragraph, a boxy form, rather than any infinite of shapes: sonnet, sestina, concrete, quatrain, haibun, ghazal.

Without poets, the world loses the necessary advocacy of the spoken word, the creation of transcendent meaning.

Without poets, the world loses a tradition that harkens back to Sappho, to Shakespeare, to Yeats and Blake, Frost and Sexton, Plath and Dickinson, Hughes and Collins and Angelou.

Last week, due to financial necessity, administrators at Johns Hopkins University axed the poetry concentration in the MA in Writing Program. Why would I, a student in the Fiction track, care? Why should you care?

Because any significant writing program includes poetry at its core; poetry is basic to excellent writing for poets and non-poets alike. Because without poetry, the writing program diminishes. In turn, a diminished program diminishes the surrounding community of writers, or readers. Because poets in and from the program are active contributors to the Baltimore/Washington arts scene: they publish, read, write, and teach this art form; they pay what they have learned forward.

If you are a poet, a writer, a poet, a reader, an artist, please read and consider signing this petition to reinstate the poetry concentration in the Hopkins MA in Writing Program.

Linda Simoni-Wastila, a fiction editor at jmww, crunches numbers by day and churns words at night. You can find her poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction in Tattoo Highway, The Sun, The Shine Journal, Boston Literary Magazine, Every Day Poets, and Six Sentences, as well as in several anthologies. She muses on writing and the mind at Leftbrainwrite. She lives and loves in Baltimore, a town where her Northern birthright and Southern upbringing comfortably comingle, and is a candidate in the Johns Hopkins MA in Writing Program.

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4 responses to “Without Poetry

  1. Very well written and very true…..poetry is at the heart of every writing program, and at the heart of all writing. All good writing has at its core a tremendous amount of beauty and grace, and it is vital that all writers, editors, readers, poets, etc understand, appreciate, and embrace this….hopefully Johns Hopkins will revise this decision.

    Like

  2. I can’t imagine my life without poetry. Not only do I enoy reading it just for the “good feeling” poetry gives me, but it also inspires much of my own work. I’ve signed and will spread the word as well.
    Thank you so much for this Linda!

    Like

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