One of the risks we run as teachers is to overly insist on our own indispensability. Without us, we seem to say, the student would be a tenderfoot in the vast forest of the poem. The student needs us to decode the landscape, to blaze trails through the unknown territory. The problem is that we simultaneously suggest that the poem is essentially unintelligible, a puzzle waiting to be solved. Using Eugen Herrigel’s Zen in the Art of Archery as our text, this Master Class will suggest strategies for helping teachers get out of the way of the poem, to send students into that uncharted forest with what they need to make their own maps.
Paul Muldoon has won many of poetry’s major awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. He is Poetry Editor of The New Yorker magazine and teaches at Princeton University. His collections of poetry include New Weather, Mules, Why Brownlee Left, Quoof, Meeting The British, Madoc: A Mystery, The Annals of Chile, Hay, Poems 1968-1998, Moy Sand and Gravel, Horse Latitudes, and Maggot. He has been described by The Times Literary Supplement as “the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War.”