Stretch Yourself (or How I Learned to Love Poetry)

Try Something New

As a newcomer to Bard LLI, I was disappointed when I didn’t get into the second-period class I really wanted. I remembered that, during my orientation, Nanci Kryzak suggested we stretch ourselves and take something different. I had never really liked poetry and didn’t see myself as a poet, but decided to take Nanci’s advice. I signed up for a poetry class with Anique Taylor.

During the first 10 minutes, I was sure that I would drop the class. Another classmate, my friend, Susan, had similar thoughts. We had the impression we were signing up to learn a better appreciation of the words of others. However, our teacher, Anique Taylor, had different ideas. She encouraged us to express our “deepest thoughts and feelings.” To STRANGERS! We were quickly plunged into committing thoughts to paper with the help of prompts and strange formats. It was a little scary to stay there, and risky, too. But we stuck it out and were very glad we did.

Express Yourself!

The poetry class description asked us to join “an exciting trip into mood, metaphor, meter, and tone.” The description was an understatement. However, over the course of seven classes, we found a safe place to play with language and reveal some of our most intimate thoughts and feelings. I learned that there are some wonderfully expressive and talented writers in Bard LLI. Some of my fellow writers ended up sharing their deepest emotions. As one classmate said, “this class has opened me up.” Some of the shared readings brought tears to my eyes. Others made me laugh hard. A community of trust developed under Anique’s leadership. As she led the cheering for each reading and offered tips for improvement, this soon became one of my favorite classes.

Unique Anique

Anique Taylor, our teacher, has a unique style and an ability to bring poetry alive. Anique’s background is diverse. She has two MFAs (Drew and Pratt) and is an artist, as well as a poet. Her writing has been published in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. She brings her experience as an artist, poet, and spiritual life coach to her teaching. Anique teaches poetry in a fun, supportive, and nonjudgmental way. The quirky expressions she sometimes uses add to the charm of her warm and witty feedback.

Where Are We Now?

Anique encouraged us to keep a separate notebook to take notes when things occur to us and to write down words that we hear and/or like. We have learned about erasure poems, interesting and unusual poets, and different styles of poetry. In weekly follow-up emails, she provided us with numerous tools to trigger our writing. One student lobbied for Anique to continue her poetry class in the spring and I know many of us will try to take it again.

I have gained a growing appreciation for the beauty of poetry and have learned that sometimes I have to stretch to learn something new about myself.