Techie-licious Poetry Studies

Woo woo, I finished my Ph.D. coursework.

Now I begin my Ph.D. work-work. And I do mean WORK.

Yes, you have to do a lot to earn a decent studio/academic MFA in creative writing. Been there, done that. I’m here to tell you that you have to do exponentially more to earn a Ph.D.–and I promise to do so in painful detail.

I spent the first week of classes cheerfully relaxed because I no longer am teaching six hours and taking nine real hours of the 18-24 hours on paper each semester. I did useful things like attend Advanced Spanish Grammar and Advanced Spanish Conversation, courses that I in no way am required to take; I organized my class rollbook, flashcards, and other geeky goodies on my new iPod Touch; and I gave a poetry reading on a dark and stormy night.

Today, reality set in. Oh f me. Do I really have time to finish all this before comps in October?!…

From the minute I got out of bed to the present, I have glued my rump to the chair. I say that because I can no longer feel my rump. Periodically, I wave my legs around like a bug or get up and wander through the house, hoping to stave off deep vein thrombosis. My mission: to organize my notes and research so that I can study them more efficiently. In other words, I’ve been doing monkeywork, amateur tech, and logistics for three days running. Looks like more of the same tomorrow, with as much actual reading as I can sneak in between now and Wednesday.

So far today, I have…

  • installed Stanza on my MacBook and my iPod Touch (in order to study hundreds of poems and thousands of pages of obscure text on the go)
  • combed Project Gutenberg for as many public-domain poetry collections and critical works as possible which relate to the doctoral poetry comps reading list
  • installed one of the 160+ downloaded titles (Biographia Literaria by Coleridge) and read/annotated exactly 8% of it)
  • discovered that I can’t export my annotations to, say, my comps notes, and written a request on Stanza’s web board for a fix on their next upgrade
  • screeched around the steep learning curve for .epub markup declarations in the vain hope of creating my comps notes in said format
  • created several spreadsheets breaking down the comps info by all various permutations and combinations
  • entered starter data into said spreadsheets
  • searched out online capsule bios and cut/pasted them chronologically into .txt files for later study
  • picked up cat-shit (thanks, cat)
  • ate dinner in a state of pureed brain collapse while watching a Discovery Channel documentary on weird fauna of the Pacific Islands
  • hunted down, ordered copies of, and began copying into .txt files the tables of contents of two books also required “as a starting point” on the comps reading list
  • Accounted for my time, here, with you, Gentle Reader
  • Watched my sweetheart go to bed
  • Reawaken the carpal tunnel I developed 20 years ago
  • And now, I am going to see whether I can convert the database of poetic terms I started at the beginning of my program into my new flashcard format. Back when I started, I had to make my unwieldy flashcards into a Keynote slideshow. The technology has improved considerably since then.

    Oh, and I do need to upload and log eight more CDs of recorded poetry that unfortunately share the same filenames across discs: “Track 1”, “Track 2″… ugh.

    All those who responded cagily to my requests for their comp notes: Bite me. Code your own. Friends who follow in my footsteps: I will be delighted to share my work with you if you think it will help. (Of course, you’ll still need to tweak it for your own purposes.)

    Light. End of tunnel. Woo woooooooooo…

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