Sarah Gridley

Associate Professor

216 368 0854
Guilford House 106A

Other Information

Degree: MFA, University of Montana
MAT, Tufts University
BA, Harvard University

I teach poetry writing workshops at the introductory, intermediate, and advanced level. In addition, I teach topic-specific courses in poetry such as feminist poetics and environmental humanities. On Being a Poet and Teaching Poetry: I believe the posture required of any poet, at any stage of the craft, is one of not-already-knowing, of making-in-finding, of errancy, as in adventure, as in to err. I don’t believe the poet makes the poem; I believe the practice, the idiosyncratic movement of each poem, makes the poet. The way of the poem is never the same twice: ladder, slalom, séance, ditch, tourniquet, turbosphere, prayer. I take heart in Yeats’s assurance that a poet “is never the bundle of accident and incoherence that sits down to breakfast”—which I read not as the dissociation of poet from everyday person, but as a recognition that a poem, deep-rooted in the experience of experience, brings the poet into being, into presence, into the care (and delirium) of attention. We may bring the same bundle of accident and incoherence to a blank page that we bring to breakfast, but in entering a poem—its sounds, shapes, etymologies, and rhythms, its chance and chosen unfoldings—we learn how to make artful use of accident, and mindful response to incoherence. I teach that a good poem does not resolve confusion: it opens the reflective space in which to experience and articulate its sources and directions. As a field of action and of meta-cognition, it is one of the rare, rounded, propitious spaces in which we can both feel thinkingly and think feelingly—as my teacher Patricia Goedicke used to say. The poems I seek out as models for my students are ones that know how to praise and lament at the same time, how to speak from that place of ambivalence. Embodiment binds to a radiant love song on one side, a shadow grief on the other. More often it is not a matter of sides, more like knots. “Critics are untanglers, poets tangle” A.R. Ammons is said to have told his students. With the physical poetry that surrounds us, with the fundaments and sediments of language, we tangle. We enter the fray. We wrestle with that always superior adversary: silence.

Recent Honors 2009 Individual Excellence Award, Ohio Arts Council 2010 Creative Workforce Fellowship, Community Partnership for Arts and Culture.