How Do You Celebrate Getting into Grad School?

Not by going to Disneyland. At least not if you’re me.

Nope, I celebrated by writing a terrible, terrible poem. An execrable poem. A poem for which a call to FEMA would not have been out of order.

I sat reading my terrible poem, swooning with humiliation, seeing no way out of the hash I had made of a promising subject, when it hit me: I had no business in an MFA program. My acceptances were a fluke, a mass hallucination across multiple admissions committees, and the only thing to do was change by name and move to Iceland. I am entirely unsuited to life in the cold and dark, but at least I would be able to cross “Northern Lights” off my bucket list. Eventually.

Fortunately, cooler heads (Ben’s) prevailed, and I realized that the delusion was mine. Not my judgement about the poem—it was terrible—but about the magical properties of an acceptance letter. It turns out that admission to an MFA program does not, after all, cause the Poetry Fairy to whack you over the head with her silver wand. It turns out that you still have to write an unbearably awful first draft; that you have to figure out some way to make that dog a little better; that you rewrite until you can’t even see the poem anymore; that you then realize that it is still awful and you have also created a whole new set of problems. And just like before, you repeat this process over and over, until you can look at your poem without cringing, until it looks nothing like the poem you were originally trying to write but at last looks like the poem it wanted to be all along.

Who knew?

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