A Poet's Double Life

For poets working outside the literary world.


A Room of One’s Own

Everyone should have a German friend who is willing to share his faculty study room in the university library. Not just once, but twice. The first room was a graduate study carrel used by his ex and the offer to use it came just as I entered the last semester of my MFA program. It was marvelous to have a small space to keep my writer’s thesaurus and manuscript drafts as I browsed the 8th floor stacks for more books about Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams to use in my graduating lecture. The grad carrel has access to a common area with a large desk by a window where I spread out the final copies of each poem to order and re-order them before sending them to my adviser. I gave up the space after graduation, passing the key to the husband of our mutual friend starting a doctoral program in Information Studies.

I thought I would write at home. Not that I really ever had before. I used the morning bus ride to journal and the return trip to read books or edit. When I tried to stay home to write, I fell victim to the couch’s chaise extension, my Hulu queue, or housecleaning. I looked for an alternative space for months—finding a great new café on 15-501—but ultimately longed for a room with a door I could close and lock with a key.  And then one Saturday night milonga in the midst of that post-tanda chit-chat I mention the need for a space so I can start a self-imposed publication boot camp, he mentions the faculty study room. We agreed to meet the next day to move me in.

After we tossed out two armloads of old German binders (did you know European paper is not the same shape as ours?) and figured out the proper hiding spot for the key, we christened the “new” writing space with a mini-milonga and candy from his secret student admirer (who also left a CD called “Sweet Mix”, but I don’t think DJ Khaled belongs in that category). It’s not on the 8th floor where my poetry and his political science books reside, has no common area, nor much of a view—unless you‘re into rocks and HVAC equipment. And is not my own, but it’s a room where I can leave my stuff, close the door, and lock it with a key.