Heather Christle has published poetry in Octopus, Glitterpony, Pilot, and other places, was anthologized in THE BEST AMERICAN EROTIC POEMS (Scribner, 2008), and is an editor for Jubilat.
Did anyone call me or the narrator in the book "a pussy" or imply that using other words?Nope.
What kind of clothes did people who disliked my writing wear?Nobody disliked it, as far as I could tell. There was a lot of enthusiasm. Some of the enthusiasm may have been stronger in certain cases than others, but even among the only mildly enthused I got a sense that they had been pleasantly surprised.
Was the term "emo" used?Some students called each other emo. I'm not sure if that counts.
Were you nervous people were going to think "it's not poetry" or "it sounds like a twelve-year-old" and think you're not a good teacher?No, I was pretty sure that they would be excited about it. Part of that may have been because we were halfway through the course when we read it, so I already knew that I was dealing with a fun and curious bunch of people. But even before that, when I was putting together the reading list, I didn't have any real qualms. I had seen you read and knew that generally people would find your work appealing.
Do twelve-year-olds sound like you? I'd be impressed.
The feeling in the room the day we discussed your book was pretty electric. We read a lot of the poems out loud (including "i am unemployed" in its entirety), and people mentioned how exciting it was for them to realize that they could write about superficially boring, ordinary, ubiquitous things. Then they wrote like crazy.
I think you told me that you teach Matthew Rohrer's writing also, have you ever had a student who felt a lot of "hatred" towards his writing?Very early in the semester, in the first week, we read "The Ideograms," (on Bear Parade). I think that it's pretty common for students to dislike poems they encounter in the first week, especially if they haven't had much exposure to contemporary poetry in the past. So there's a way in which Rohrer was my sacrificial lamb. Some people felt angry or frustrated, as though Rohrer "thought he was smarter" than them. I have the feeling that this response had more to do with strange ideas of how poetry can behave than with Rohrer himself. (And I should say, too, that some of the people in the class responded very positively.)
A little bit later on in the course we listened to Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty, and most people loved that.
Teachers at NYU taught Tony Hoagland's writing a lot I think when I was there. Have you ever used a poem by Billy Collins in class?I saw Tony Hoagland read at Smith recently. There was a very large crowd, including one man drinking lots of beer and emitting fantastic belches. Huge, loud, throaty ones. Hoagland closed with a poem about Britney Spears and then invited the audience to discuss "why Britney Spears is the way she is." There was a short pause while the audience began to gather their ideas together, and then, before anyone else could speak, the belching man yelled "TRANS FATS." And Tony Hoagland stopped talking after that. This is just to say I have never used a Billy Collins poem in class.
What do you do when everyone in your class is talking a lot of shit uncontrollably about someone's poetry (or does that not happen)?Hasn't happened yet. I try to switch the metaphor of the class from "workshop" to "laboratory," so there's not much room for that kind of thing. I imagine I'll have to deal with it at some point, but it would all depend so much on the individuals involved, the dynamic of that particular group. People seem to be pretty good at realizing that a poetry class is a room full of actual humans, and behave accordingly.