And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Trying New Things

So I'm submitting poetry. Rag-a-Bag is off into the wider world to make, well, maybe copies. Bon voyage little poem.

I've only submitted poetry to college publications before. It's a long story. Basically, poetry was the major focus of my minor in Creative Writing, although my senior thesis was on the writings of Arthur C. Clarke (the thesis explored the relationship of religion to science in his writings, yeah, I had a brain, once, long ago).

There was a professor at my college that taught poetry. One critique in advanced poetry he criticised my use of a specific image in a love poem (well, actually it was a poem about love, not an actual love poem). "Buchheit," he said, "you just can't have dogs pissing on phone polls in a poem about love. It doesn't work. Even if you're using it to show frustration." (the dog's actions were showing the frustration he had with his moon-god, the street light) Flash forward 4 years (I was an undergraduate for 6-years, I changed majors, plus I worked several jobs to get through, deal with it) and my last semester. Said professor has a new book of poems out. I use my final bookstore discount (one of the three jobs I was working while attending full time, yes, full time AND three jobs) to purchase the little volume. Where I find a love poem (actually, a poem about love) with (wait for it) a dog peeing on a telephone poll to show frustration. That book still bears the crease in the cover. I have it somewhere (it's in a box right now). I think that was the last poetry book I ever bought.

Am I still mad? Maaayyybbbee. What's it to ya?


Jim Wright said...

'Way back in high school history class the teacher asked if anybody knew what the national anthem was before "the Star Spangled Banner." I was a member of a Revolutionary War reenactor outfit and knew that Billing's "Chester" was one of several national anthems during the revolutionary war period. So I raised my hand (the only kid in the class to do so) expecting to be complimented on my knowledge. Instead the teacher snorted derisively, made some sarcastic remark about "chester the molester" and completely humiliated me in front of the class. I knew I was right, so after class I went to the library, looked up the reference, and the next day before class showed the book to the teacher (along with a note from the band teacher explaining that William Billings was widely considered "America's First Composer" and Chester was indeed a national anthem). The teacher shrugged, said it was no big deal, yesterday's topic, and saw no reason to admit his error in front of the class. Except the next semester, he taught it correctly, never admitting had ridiculed a student in front of his class who knew something he didn't.

Jerk. It's thirty years ago now, and I still hate that guy. I imagine you feel similar regarding your idiot of a poetry prof.

Camille Alexa said...

Wow. [Or is that, 'Bow wow'?]

Camille Alexa said...

I might mention I had a painting prof who once told an entire undergrad art class (about 80% female) that women could never become 'true' artists because they didn't have the necessary mental fortitude.

Steve Buchheit said...

Jim, yeah, I have a special little place in my heart for him. He wasn't the worse teacher I had, that goes to my 7th grade science teacher Mr. Mustard. Everytime I hear the Beatles "Mean Mr. Mustard" I think of him. It took me nearly a decade to get over his asstardery which turned me from a straight A student to a solid C student (as an example, I graduated college with a higher GPA than I graduated HS, by a full letter grade and this is after I also flunked out of college).

Camille, ouch, that's harsh, and pure BS boot.

General disclaimer, I've had many wonderful teachers/instructors. From those who taught me, "I come before you to stand behind you to tell you something of which I know nothing about," and another who said I should go to graduate art school, not because I needed it, but because the school needed it. And Miss Janet Tillitski, my HS English teacher (9, 10, and 12). I should write an entry about her. Teen-age angst crushes. Now I'm all nostalgia-ee. She's the one who kept saying, "Books are your friends." They certainly are, Miss Tillitski, they certainly are.

Steve Buchheit said...

I didn't edit well, that should be "I graduated college with a higher GPA than I graduated HS, by a full letter grade and this is after I nearly flunked out of college."