Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A tutor who tooted the flute...

Talked to an old friend today, a Unitarian minister & writer who has gotten away from writing (other than sermons) over the past few years and wants to make a place for poetry & writing in her life again; she decided that what she wants is to engage a tutor, someone to meet with her every other week or so & work with her on her writing & give her assignments & stuff, and she thought of me as someone who might be able to do this. She wants to pay money and everything; when I said heck, I'd do it for a cup of coffee, she said that it was important to her to pay for it -- and looking at it objectively (as opposed to seeing it through the haze of "who in their right mind would pay money for meeeee?"), she's right; it sets up a certain dynamic and makes it clear that the focus is on her and her work rather than on a peer-critique, even exchange kind of thing.

So, at first I was a little bit taken aback about the idea, but now I'm kind of excited about it. I'm already thinking of poets I want to have her read -- some who are similar to her own esthetic and some who are very different, because I think reading poets whose work is very different from yours is important -- and exercises I could give her. And formalizing the situation, especially with a small stipend involved, makes it feel like something I can put on the old CV and everything. And she is someone I haven't seen much of lately & always enjoy spending time with, so I think we'll both have fun with this.

Have any of you tutored one-on-one like this? I'd love any advice or suggestions!

6 comments:

Pamela said...

I have tutored one-on-one in research/nonfiction, but never in poetry. (I wouldn't take money for the work, but I did accept 2 fabulous 1940-50s cookie jars when we were "done". That friend really knew how to bribe me, especially since these were cookie jars with cats on them).

I would love to have someone be my poetry mentor. That's why I've enrolled in a workshop, because when I sign up and pay, I feel, well, invested. (And that's why I'm contemplating a low-res. MFA this spring, for the mentoring and the challenge).

Diane K. Martin said...

Anne, you can definitely put this on a CV! What a fabulous experience!

There's a good book out by Chase Twichell, I think, that has a bunch of good writing assignments. I can't remember the title....

Anne said...

Pamela, me too -- plus I think when you set up an explicit "teacher/student" relationship, you can ask things of your teacher that you can't ask of a peer. I would love a mentor too, someone for more than just a summer-workshop week. I'm still thinking about low-res MFA programs myself....

Diane, thanks! I think I have that Chase Twichell book around here somewhere. My friend is a big Mary Oliver fan & wants to start off working through her book about writing, which is fine with me; I do, however, want to ease her over into reading poets with whom she doesn't feel an immediate kinship, poets she might not read without me pushing her into it. I think it's so important to read work that's very different from your own. So that's one thing I intend to do with this tutoring thing. Something tells me I'm going to learn at least as much as I teach....

jenni said...

That sounds really cool. I've always heard you learn more from teaching than being taught.

early hours of sky said...

Oh I think you will be a wonderful teacher. I'm making a list of books in my head...yes, you are going to have so much fun.

Anne said...

Thanks, everyone!

Okay, now this is funny -- I just got comment spam on this post (which I've deleted) from an online-tutoring site for kids. And in the comment, they used "there" where they should have used "their." Methinks someone needs to take advantage of their own services.. ;)