Reflections of a 49-year-old Intern

Tim DykeFor the past two years, Tim Dyke has been one our wonderful Education Interns. He's recently graduated from The University of Arizona with his MFA in Fiction, and will be returning to his Hawaii homeland to teach. We will miss him dearly.          

Even if I am the world’s oldest intern, I still am glad that I have had the opportunity to work at the Poetry Center for the past two years. In the spring of 2010, I made the decision to leave Honolulu, Hawaii, where I had lived and worked as a high school English teacher for 18 years. I would travel to Tucson, AZ, a place I’d never been before. I’d enroll in the Creative Writing graduate program to pursue an MFA degree in fiction writing.  In order to augment my funding support, I applied to be an Education Intern at the University of Arizona Poetry Center. I still remember the interview. I hadn’t had to apply for a job in almost two decades, and then all of a sudden there I was: I remember sitting in my friend’s office, borrowing his phone as I talked to the Poetry Center staff about joining them that upcoming autumn.

Two years later I am all set to graduate. With the support of the Creative Writing faculty and my classmates in workshop, I have produced a novel manuscript and have read and learned so much about fiction writing. On Mondays and Thursdays, for a total of ten hours a week, I show up at the Poetry Center and work my internship job.  In just about six weeks from now, these experiences will be behind me. I will leave Tucson and make my way back to Honolulu where I’ll continue my life of writing and teaching. As my UA experience concludes, I find myself in a reflective state of mind.  I will be benefitting from my time in Tucson for the rest of my life. If anyone ever asks me how I benefitted from my internship, I would have so much to say. For two years I have worked with the talented and experienced education staff at the Poetry Center. I have facilitated poetry-related field trips with young people from schools all over Tucson.  I would like to think that I have taught these students well. As I reflect on my experiences leading field trips and helping with Saturday Family Day events, I know I have learned as much as I have taught. That seems to happen in a nurturing learning environment: the students can become teachers, and the teachers can discover that there is always more to learn.

So what have I learned over two years as a Poetry Center Education Intern?  Well, here’s a list as it rolls off the top of my head: I have learned that there is poetry in every day life, that every person regardless of age or background is capable of experiencing poetic moments. I have learned that while celebrated children’s poets like Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, and Karla Kuskin continue to delight, it is also possible to inspire children with the works of Pablo Neruda, Lucille Clifton, Emily Dickinson, and Wallace Stevens.  I have learned that you can never thank docent Tony Luebberman too many times for bringing bagels for Poetry Center staff, one day a week. I have learned that Tucson is a rich resource for talented singers, dancers, writers, artists, and educators. I have learned that poetry can be a vehicle for talking to children and young people about love, war, God, and all the big issues in life. I have also learned that poetry can be equally effective in discussing the seemingly small moments of life, the way a flower breaks into blossom or the way so much can depend upon a red wheelbarrow. Mostly I have learned that to write and to teach and to learn and to read are all related acts. Through my internship at the Poetry Center, I was given a formal way to pass on what I was learning to students of a younger generation. The University of Arizona Creative Writing Program gave me an opportunity to become a better writer.  My education internship at the Poetry Center provided me with a chance to become a better person.

Created on: 
Monday, April 23, 2012
Arizona Board of Regents