This is really, really great stuff:
I worked with a LPN in a hospital once. His name was Sonny. He had switched from law enforcement to nursing. Why? Because he wrecked six police cars and killed three people in his short time as a Birmingham, Alabama police officer. This is how the world works.
Writers write about writing. Maybe because this is what they know. They also write about teaching. God knows universities are the Peggy Guggenheims of today. Funding writers. Letting them scribble indoors. Letting them read away from the gray rain.
* Straight Man by Russo.
* Wonder Boys by Chabon.
* Lucky Jim by Amis
Most are satire. If you’ve worked in academia, you understand why.
Over at the Cipher, Herbatt Batt adds to the English Dept Lit genre. This one is rather good. The whole piece is filled with sad, comical scenes, as an American teaches literature at a Polish institute. Here our narrator meets one of his students outside:
· Feet slogged through the sleety puddle inside the Institute entrance. Wisps of fog clung in the darkness to the corners of the building.
· Miss Woncior stood by the road in the milky-white fog. She wore a green ski jacket. She had sat placidly amidst the maelstrom of her classmates’ rage. “Hello,” I ventured.
· A calm smile lit her pale face, her cheeks pink from the cold. “Oh, Dr. Lawrence!”
· We stood, wordless, a moment. “What’s your literature paper about?”
· “Alice in Wonderland.”
· “Oh!” I hadn’t expected that topic. “How did you pick that?”
· “I am interested in nonsense.”
· Well, this ought to be the right school for her. “How did you decide to come to this institute?” I asked.
· A pensive scowl flitted across her face. “I was registered to write the university entrance exams, but I got sick. The school year started. My father arranged for me to come here.”
· “Now that you’re here, how you like this institute?”
· “If you live with cripples you learn to limp.”
Take a foreign poem. And re-write it. But don’t translate, just rewrite it. Weirdly, this works.
April och Tystnad (Tomas Tranströmer)
Våren ligger öde.
Det sammetsmörka diket
krälar vid min sida
Det enda som lyser
är gula blommor.
Jag bärs i min skugga
som en fiol
i sin svarta låda.
Det enda jag vill säga
glimmar utom räckhåll
April and Tenseness (Lucas Klein)
Varnish beleaguers all.
The summit-smoke dictates
kraals with more disease
than spiels and spell-builders
The end sounds, lissome,
are gurgling in bloom.
I bare my scrubs:
same as thievery
without severed ardor.
The end: I will sagas
to glimmer about rack-halls
housed in leaden paint.