I never introduce myself as a poet. Until recently, I recoiled from public pronouncements by other people that I am a poet. I suppose I found it somewhat presumptuous. Mary Oliver is a poet. Maxine Kumin is a poet. I am just me. Muddling through life, reading books, writing some poems. A portion of the MFA program is, in some ways, professionalization into the world of poetry. Though that seems completely ludicrous as the world of poetry is a world of very little economic value, something that is of the ultimate importance in the United States today, and it is a small world. By small, I mean not of ideas or ambition, but of people - poets, readers, admirers. The MFA is unlike the MSW, for example, or the JD. Those two degrees are invested integrally in professionalizing people for a life-long practice of work. I suppose that the MFA has some ambitions to that end, but honestly I think those ambitions are misguided. There are many things I learned through the MFA and there are ways that it changed my thinking about my life and my professional work, but the later isn’t the thrust of the degree. The thrust of the degree is not finding ways to embrace the moniker of poet or introducing young students to a professional society. The thrust of the degree is not to standardize a particular professional practice. The thrust of the degree is to provide time and space for the wild creative mind to go hunting internally and in the world. The thrust of the degree is to write poems. Each different, each hopefully better. Yes, there are particular professional bona fides that are a part of the degree as it lives in our society that thrives on such bona fides, but I think the more that it is considered outside of that realm, the better for us all.