Diane Wakoski: “Offering to Trade Lives with the Clam

Assemblage: English 350 “Visible Rhetoric” Fall 1994

I studied with two outstanding creative writing teachers at Michigan State: Al Drake (a new media poet and novelist thirty years before we knew what that term meant) and Diane Wakoski. Wakoski was able to articulate in workshop what a poem was doing right. This was a remarkable skill. Understanding what you were doing right gave you a sense of what to build on. It also meant that the better your stuff, the more valuable her comments. She helped me shape a narrative voice that I can now see informed everything I did. As she said in “The Emerald Essay”: “A poem is a story in which the images are more important than the narrative.”