A couple of weeks back, I wrote a poem about a certain teacher who had squashed my poetry hopes and efforts 28 years ago. In fact, I wrote two poems. In one, I tried to be funny. In neither did I try to be nice.
Tonight, while going through old things, I found the evaluation sheet from that teacher. Why did I save it? In my 20s I frivolously saved everything.
In all fairness, it probably wasn't as disdainful as I remember it. I'm not sure. Tonight I just scanned it—at least, after the first part of the first sentence:
"None of your poems except probably number 3 is a total failure…"
If you are a younger or a newer poet—or any human being—and you encounter a comment like that, take a deep breath and wait a few days or a few years before you decide what you're going to do with it.
As I said, tonight I just scanned it—and it looks like the sweeping devastation ends toward the end. I'll wait a few more days or a few more years and then read through it. Maybe it isn't too late to learn something from that experience.
P.S. I was, after all, so lucky. A few quarters later, I wandered into Nelson Bentley's class and felt like I could write again. The memory stayed, but the poetry began again.