convinced / contained / concluded by Laura Kochman

I am officially a Master of Fine Arts.

I defended my thesis yesterday, and in a strange twist of fate I wished that the defense was longer. I'm very conscious of the fact that I'll be leaving Alabama soon, and that carefully considered conversations about my poetry will not be happening on a regular basis. But now that I'm a Master, I can just command people on the street to talk poetry to me, right? Right. It was so nice to hear all the nice things the committee had to say, about flatness and intimacy and the constructed body and pronouns! and all the other parts of my thesis that I fretted over. My advisor even admitted that although we had disagreed over my pronoun usage, I convinced him in the end that it was right for the project. I feel like the book came out the way I wanted it to, which is maybe the highest compliment I can stand to give myself. I'm proud of it.

My MFA friends will all be defending their work soon, so I plan on observing their defenses. I'd like to hold on to this community as long as I can, and also, their work is so great—imagine a mashup of Ovid and Peter Pan and black bears and poured-concrete mountains and Monumental Women and spaghetti westerns and Beanie Babies and the baddest of bad sisters and hulking ships and delicately shaving someone else's legs. I feel lucky to have been around such crazy good writers for so long.

by Laura Kochman

Oh dear. This always seems to happen in the fall—things get busy, and I forget about this writing space. The visiting writers, whose visits I organize, started visiting right at the beginning of October. B spent a week in Belgium, so the cat and I spent a week cuddling. Ever since B got back, our apartment has been Sickville. The cat loves it, because all the humans are lying around so still and horizontal. I had a conversation with B about the poems I've been writing lately, and my frustration with suggestions to name people in them, to create more of a coherent sense of narrative. I know I'm not the first writer to use pronouns without announcing them [see: Kate Greenstreet, The Last 4 Things. see: C.D. Wright, in general.]. I want these figures to function as figures, human shapes, not delineated by their relationship to the speaker but by their existence as Other. And I can accept that it's currently not working, but I want to figure out how to make it work, rather than subscribe to narrative. My work of the past couple of years, the book manuscript and Future Skirt, has worked within narrative and character, and so it's not that I dislike narrative. It just doesn't feel right to me in the context of what I'm working on right now. My work of now is photographic, non-linear, flapping behind a screen. And I like it that way. And I'm very stubborn.