Monday, April 15, 2013


As a returning MFA in poetry studies student, the idea of taking a one week intensive poetry workshop with Nick Flynn (supremely intelligent poet and witty conversationalist) was very intimidating. My first introduction to Flynn was during a past poetry workshop at FAU where I was fortunate enough to have been assigned Some Ether, Flynn’s debut poetry book.  This first introduction to the poet only whetted my appetite for more, and I went into the workshop with little expectation except for two specific goals: One, to meet the poet whose intimate writing about childhood trauma could transform the terrible into beautiful and poignant verse, and second, to find some inspiration that would help me to sit down and find my own transformative power as a poet.

I’ve written plenty of poetry but nothing good, or rather, nothing good enough.  Perhaps that is the first and most important lesson that I learned from the workshop.  In order to write anything that transcends mediocrity, you must kill the inner critic; well, at least temporarily incapacitate it, so that creativity can take over long enough to produce something. I will not say that something is brilliant or even slightly good, but it is something, which by all accounts is better than nothing.

I will not say I had writers' block because I hate the term; it was more like my muse went on a long vacation and it was time for her to come back and get to work. 

In order to entice Ms. Muse to return from her long hiatus, I started to employ some of the writing exercises that we learned in workshop.  One exercise that was particularly helpful involved “free writing” for approximately seven minutes with a subject or topic in mind.  I noticed that the first five minutes produced complete crap, but somewhere in the last minute or so I was furiously writing down what could almost be perceived as a possible poetic line or idea.  It didn’t really matter where this idea, word, line, or image was going, it only mattered that it was a good idea, word, line, image, whatever, and that one day it would go somewhere. 

Now I make sure to write something every day and I try to stick to the seven minute rule.  Sometimes I produce a poem that may or may not need extreme revision, a story idea may materialize (or not) or I may have a complete creative breakthrough, in any case, it is never a waste of time. So if I could say one thing to Professor Flynn today it would be this, thank you.  Thank you for your time because it is indeed precious, as all writers know, time is something we do not have enough of, and thank you for your poetry because it is divine, and finally, thank you for showing me where my muse was hiding; she had run completely out of vacation days.

Yordanka Penton is an MFA first year student.  She is a passionate educator who currently works full time as a “Senior Student Success Specialist” (AKA academic advisor) for Broward College; she also moonlights as an adjunct professor teaching Strategies for College Success courses for incoming freshman at BC. Yordanka  loves 19th century British literature, confessional poetry, rainy days, happy people, and a cup of tea at the end of her day. 

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