Thursday, May 15, 2008

On Being Taught, and Teaching



Lately, I've been feeling pretty fortunate. I had two books come out last year, both in the fall, and, little more than six months later, both of them are being taught. Beams has been used by several students in an undergraduate English course at a conservative college (Wofford, Prof. Jennie Neighbors) in South Carolina. They have taken the thing apart, in a search for what motivates, animates, and designates avant-garde (post-avant) poetry. The students were given a choice of a plethora of texts, and they chose mine. I have befriended one of them on Facebook, and corresponded with the professor, a delightful person with an adventurous spirit as regards literature. What an affirmation! I think of it as luck, mostly. Opera Bufa is going to be presented to a class at Loyola in Chicago this summer. One of the things I'll be doing in Chicago in June is speaking to, and reading for, this class. Again, just good luck, happy chance. I can only hope that this luck, this feeling of my books actually doing something in the world, continues, and give thanks I've been in the right place at the right time.

Also, this goes to show that not all academia is mired in provincialism. This was my first semester teaching, and, though the syllabus was not of my choosing, I tried to be as heterogeneous in the way I presented the material as possible. I taught John Donne alongside my friend Chris Goodrich (specifically, his poems in Ocho #11), Twelfth Night alongside Tom Stoppard, and hit the students with a John Keats chaser after a long day of George Herbert. It is my hope that me and all my friends will continue to transform academia to the point that it is, or can be, genuinely edifying, a realm in which legitimate literary discoveries can be made. Next semester I teach Comp-not much I can do with that- but I am going to try nonetheless.

P.S. There is an interesting review of Beams up in Galatea Resurrects #9, turned in by Argotist Online editor Jeffrey Side.

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