Still you have to applaud a statement like this one of Josef Albers', which I find in the beautiful coffee table book that we're selling here: Black Mountain College: Experiment in Art (edited by Vincent Katz; Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002). It seems entirely applicable to the way I want to teach poetry. He said this in 1928:
To experiment is at first more valuable than to produce; free play in the beginning develops courage. Therefore, we do not begin with a theoretical introduction; we start directly with the material. . . .Well, that last bit could go. Baroque excess often leads to the palace of wisdom, or at least freshness. But the fundamentals are very sound. I do wonder though what might constitute the "edge" of language.
The most familiar methods of using [materials] are summarized; and since they are already in use they are for the time being forbidden. For example: paper, in handicraft and industry, is generally used lying flat; the edge is rarely utilized. For this reason we try paper standing upright, or even as a building material; we reinforce it by complicated folding; we use both sides; we emphasize the edge. Paper is usually pasted: instead of pasting it we try to tie it, to pin it, to sew it, to rivet it. . . .
Our aim is not so much to work differently as to work without copying or repeating others. we try to experiment, to train ourselves in "constructive thinking." . . .
. . . an essential point in our teaching is economy. Economy is the sense of thriftiness in labor and material and in the best possible use of them to achieve the effect that is desired (22-23).