Friday, November 14, 2014

The secret lives of college professors

After the reading, one of my first-year students bounced up all bubbly and said, "Dr. Hogue! That was great! I didn't know you could write!"

It was intended as a compliment and I took it that way, but that last line rankles a bit. Didn't know I could WRITE?!! Writing is who I am. Writing is what I do. But I suppose I can't blame a student who has seen my writing only in the margins of papers, where's it's not easy to wax poetic:

This comma splice
just isn't nice.
Don't make me read
this sentence twice.

To make a splash,
please use a dash.

I was of three minds,
like a sentence
in which there are three verb tenses.

No, my marginal comments are too blunt and fragmentary to sound at all lyrical; they're less like poetry than like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. The same must be true of my colleague the poet who is diligently trying to teach my Sports Lit students how to write coherent sentences. Last week one of our shared students said, "I didn't know Dr. A was a poet!" And I had to point out that he's not just a poet but an excellent poet whose work appeared in the Best American Poetry 2013 anthology. Didn't know he was a POET?!!

I suppose it's difficult for students to see us as more than critics of their writing, correctors of their errors, but maybe that's our fault. Last night at the end of the student reading sponsored by the English Department, after students had shared their essays and short fiction and poetry, three of us who teach creative writing classes shared short works of our own, something we haven't done in quite some time. I always enjoy hearing my colleagues' work, but most of all I enjoy showing students that we who teach writing actually know a thing or two about how language works. 

But the glow of the spotlight won't last. Today I face a pile of student drafts, and as much as I'd like to, I can't possibly pour vast amounts of creativity into marginal comments:

The apparition of a thesis in the intro--
Pablum on a wet, black void.

Whose words these are I think I know;
Their house is Wikipedia, so
You will not see me reading more.
I'll just write down an F and go.

Nah, not a writer. Not a writer at all. 


Bardiac said...

Ah, lovely, unawares students.

I love the last poem, by the way. The image of "Pablum on a wet, black void" is just perfect. Oh, so perfect.

Bev said...

Borrowed, of course, from Ezra Pound's "In a Station of the Metro."

Bardiac said...

Yes :) But it speaks to my mushy Friday teaching brain.

Bev said...

What, you have brain cells left on a Friday? You're obviously not working hard enough!