Teachers have no right to pride, really, when it comes to their students' work. All I can claim to have done is ask questions and make some statements about what I saw in the poems before me. I try to be a friendly, interested advocate for what seems most alive in the work at hand. My ideal is for the writer I'm working with to feel thoroughly SEEN -- that someone (me) is looking very closely at what they've made and are trying to make, and attempting to articulate that project with them.
But even though the writer does the work, I can't help but feel this flush of pride when first books find their way into the world. This week brings the news that THREE of my former students have just had books taken, and I am feeling beside myself with delight. Lauren Berry won the National Poetry Series; Terrance Hayes chose her book for Viking Penguin. Glenn Shaheen won the Agnes Starret Lynch Prize and his book will be published by Pittsburgh. And Lacy Johnson, whose dissertation was a formally rambunctious assemblage of text, video, photos and audio recordings, has just had a print version of the work accepted by Iowa. Hot damn. I am, in whatever relation to these books I might claim (even if it is hardly any at all other than cheerleader) inordinately happy.