April showers bring May flowers. So although last month was National Poetry Month, it is still in full bloom for us at the NY Writers Coalition. Therefore, here on The Narrator, we are giving another nod to one of the writers and poets growing in our own backyard. NYWC has been privileged to have a talented community of workshop leaders and we are putting the spotlight on one and delving deeper into what makes her so outstanding in her craft. Say hello to writer, poet, and workshop leader, Chelsea Lemon Fetzer.
Chelsea Lemon Fetzer received her MFA in fiction at Syracuse University in 2008. Her work has appeared in Stone Canoe, Callaloo, Tin House, and Mississippi Review. Currently she is also an instructor for the PEN American Center’s Readers and Writers Program. In 2009 she founded The Create Collective, Inc. a non-profit organization working to bring collaborative arts projects and workshops to community based organizations. She lives in Brooklyn and is at work on her first novel, Rivermaps.
I have been writing poems a long time too but…a poet? I didn’t think I’d earned it. I hadn’t studied it the way I studied fiction in school/college/grad school. Sitting down with a poem felt like a selfish act. I didn’t know or care if I was doing it well. I wrote poems when I needed a break, whether from the novel I’d been writing or the constantly unfinished narratives of life. I wanted the satisfaction of endings and poems arrived at them so quickly. I could end three in a month! For me that is amazing. I also love the exercise in economy, creating a story or new kind of narrative in just a few lines. I love how the form has so many possibilities, so many ways to break the rules of grammar. I interloped in one of Michael Burkard’s open poetry classes at Syracuse. This began a study. Soon after, I had three poems selected for publication and I added “poet”, sort of tentatively to the bio the journal requested. I really began seeking mentors after that. I had the great opportunity to study with Ruth Forman at VONA, as well as Linda Susan Jackson through Cave Canem. I call myself a poet now, not for any accomplishments, but because I am on the path. I’m studying.