Another poetry session with Jacob has passed by, and Jamie and I are slowly making our way through his curriculum. After discussing ‘Topic’ in our last meeting, we focused mostly on ‘Development’ and worked through some of our recent poems. The ‘development’ aspect of writing poetry has to do with
a) knowing what you are talking about
b) thoroughly exploring your message, rather than repeating the same ideas over and over again.
Jacob really stressed the fact the analysis of your own poems should go deeper and deeper, whether by exploring a metaphor to a higher extent or bringing in new ideas to support your message. This is very important for me to remember, because I need to work on keeping my topics cohesive rather than jumping around randomly. One of my strengths in poetry is finding good rhythm and flow, though a poem that sounds good doesn’t necessarily make sense. Jacob brought up a good art analogy to accompany this actually. If you put a Van Gough, a Picasso, and a Monet painting side by side, we could admire each individually for their artistic qualities, but they don’t compliment each other as a cohesive collection or story. Similarly, you can admire individual parts of poetry, but they won’t have a big impact unless there is some sort of continuity or running storyline throughout.
Jacob suggested writing out each ‘plot point’ in our poem so that we can have a deeper understanding of what we are actually writing about. A good way to make sure that I have a strong message or topic is to come up with a climax of the poem before writing the beginning (another good suggestion from the almighty Jacob). Like novels, poems often follow the Freytag Model, so it is helpful to map out the ‘storyline’ of the poem (in your head or on paper), so that you do not end up rambling through the entire thing. Jacob points out that saying ‘poverty is bad’ can get pretty boring after 3 minutes, so instead, development of a topic prevents repetition and promotes deeper analysis.
1. What went particularly well during your mentoring sessions?
I found that during our sessions with Jacob, we can go through quite a lot of material in a short amount of time, and I think this is due to the fact that we have found a good balance of lecturing and interaction. We usually spend some time going through some of Jacob’s established curriculum, as well some leadership lessons with John C. Maxwell’s book. This is a good time for Jacob to make sure that he has said everything he had wanted to say for that session, to that we have time for less curriculum-based discussion as well. Jacob often works individually on our poems with us, smoothing out kinks and that sort of thing; this is our opportunity to talk with him about what we would like to improve on and what we should work on in the future. I find this really helpful because we are always given something to write, read, or do for our next meeting so that we can keep up with what Jacob had planned for us. Also, I think that I our productivity level during our sessions is because both Jamie and I feel comfortable enough around Jacob to bounce our ideas off of him and talk about the poetry that we have poured our heart and soul into. Yeah, I would say that takes some trust.
2. What relationship challenges did you face?
I would say that our time with Jacob runs pretty smoothly overall because we can easily connect with his analogies and ideas. However, the only communication speed bumps we face are due to the fact that Jacob has a hard time putting things into words. It is quite entertaining to watch his eyes light up with an idea and then try to convey this idea through frantic hand motions and then, as a last resort, uses a basketball reference (Jamie and I don’t know much about basketball, which Jacob has learned quickly). Eventually we get his point, but it is definitely interesting to try and work it out with him, as poetry often deals with very abstract concepts. It just takes some very analytical listening to figure it out, and it often leads to more discussion and questions afterward.
3. What challenges emerged (How are you holding yourself accountable for your learning)?
Jamie and I have been taking notes throughout our sessions with Jacob, to help us review some of the important aspects of a lesson. He often assigns us some reading and/or suggests some poets to look up, which helps us continue on with our lesson until the next we meet. I often find myself flipping back though my notes and making sure that I am staying on track with what I had decided to do for a few weeks, and then using Jacob’s resources to help me with any of my improvement areas. I always try to write on a regular basis so that Jacob can help me through the process of refining and editing, but also to watch the progress of my writing throughout the project. I hope to look back on all of my past poetry and see how I have implemented the concepts that Jacob has been teaching us over time.