Grimm to speak on technical elements of poetry with Brown Bag



Some interests never die — and for Susan Grimm, her interests lie in beginnings, endings, titles and white space.

Grimm, author of Lake Erie Blue and the poet-in-residence for Week Nine, will discuss exactly that with her Brown Bag lecture, called “Beginnings, Endings, Titles, and White Space,” at 12:15 p.m. today on the front porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall.

“I decided that I wanted to give a lecture about something that was interesting to me as a way of approaching poems,” Grimm said.

Grimm has been invested in poetry from an early age.

“This sounds really so hokey, but I probably wrote my first poems when I was about 7 years old,” Grimm said.

The writer added that working at her craft and seeing her writing evolve is what has kept her interested in poetry over time. It also helps her on an emotional level.

“This sounds so New Age-y — I think it’s somehow good for me,” Grimm said. “In a way, I think it’s how I interpret the world or understand the world or make things right for myself in the world. So it’s doing both of those things: I really enjoy the making of the object, but I also enjoy what it does for me personally as well.”

Grimm’s interest in her Brown Bag topic first arose when she was editing Ordering the Storm, a book of essays on arranging books of poetry.

“The reason that I did that was because I was really interested in it at the time, so I kind of pushed and said, ‘Hey, this would be good to have a book about,’ ” Grimm said. “So I think I’m looking at it in the same way. You know, maybe if I were going to be writing a book today, these are the things that I would be saying the book should be about.”

One aspect of poetry that Grimm finds especially fascinating is the ending of the poem.

“You really can’t talk about — I don’t think — what should happen at the end of a poem,” Grimm said. “You can look at the beginning of a poem, you can read the first line, and talk about what’s happening in the beginning, but you really can’t, in the same way, look at the end of a poem and say, ‘Well this is the last line. What’s happening here?’ Because there’s too much connection to what has gone before.”

Grimm also finds beginnings and titles to be a common stumbling point for new writers.

“Especially if they’re new writers,” she said. “I think that I talk a lot about beginnings as places that people feel uncomfortable with. All kinds of writers are kind of uncomfortable with titling, so I’m going to kind of argue why the title is important and all the ways you should be thinking about it.”

Grimm said that, while her Brown Bag is geared toward poetry, she thinks it might be useful for all writers, regardless of genre. She believes that all creative writing informs each other. Grimm said short story writers might not be interested in “learning about line breaks,” but that she imagines “they would be interested in this discussion of how things begin and end.”

Regardless of what genre they may or may not write in, Grimm hopes that her audience will have one main takeaway from her lecture.

“Old problems — and maybe new things to think about,” Grimm said.