There is no poetry brain - a year of poetry epiphany.

I shall begin by talking about Maths...

no, comeback and hear me out.  I am currently studying a Stanford Online Course in how to teach Maths, particularly to young children.

Professor Jo Boaler became concerned with the fact that the latest research on how to best teach Maths; research on brain plasticity and Mindset were not getting to educators and so she designed this course to do just that. For me the course has had wider applications for my learning.  Here's her 12 min TED Talk.

So how does this tie in with my poetry?

Well,  I want to consider Fixed versus Growth Mindset.  I think we apply these to different areas of our life dependent on a range of things but I think for a lot of my schooling I had a fixed mindset.

Now having a fixed mindset, doesn't guarantee failure (indeed many successful people have fixed mindsets) but I think given certain circumstances it truncates your potential.

I was always "smart"at English, co-wrote a novelette in a weekend with friends and had it published in a Fringe anthology at age 15.  My first poem was selected for the end of year performance as part of a choreographed drama presentation.

And then I got to University and while still good at English, what could have been the start of a writing career dissipated.  Why?  Because the work got harder, and there were people I perceived (and who probably were, better than me) as not necessarily smarter, but further along in their learning and that in someone with a fixed mindset usually translates to a belief that you are not as smart as you think you are, that you are not smart, that you should not bother.

So while this Year of Poetry was not designed or undertaken with Mindset in mind I find it dovetails nicely into why it's a good idea to keep working away, making mistakes, exposing yourself to as wide a reading as possible.

I still catch myself getting dejected when reading good poems by people in magazines or publications that I would love to feature in, still catch myself thinking that perhaps I'm not smart enough.

The truth is, that there is no Poetry brain, just like their is no Math brain, just continual work and application. Poet's aren't born, they develop.


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