Ibid

EliotPaperIt is March, and the premiere of my one-woman poetry show Poem Life is fast approaching. Until then, I am going to post snippets of things that will be in the show. Here is the first one.

My senior paper submitted

In Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for

English IV

was turned in on March 10, 1980 to Mrs. Akers at Locust Grove High School. Mrs. Akers was a beloved teacher at LG High School for more years than anyone knows. My father was one of her students. LG folks had the experience of generations of their family being taught by her.

She taught Senior English, and when I was a child, the LG Schools Open House was a BIG DEAL. One of its highlights was visiting Mrs. Akers’ room where all the student shadow boxes would be on display. These were elaborately-made scenes from books the seniors had read. Paper-mache, woodworking, clay, painting, sculpture–all kinds of arts went into constructing these dioramas. I loved visiting her room every year to see them. When I was a senior, however, I copped out on all the artistry and picked a Zane Grey novel, bought some plastic cowboys and Indians and made a scene from it. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even read the book. Anyway . . . Mrs. Akers

EliotPaper2_001I remember two things from her class: memorizing Macbeth’s tomorrow and tomorrow speech and diagramming sentences. Mrs. Akers rarely moved from her desk. She was as wide as she was tall, which was short, and her bosom rested on the desk. No one acted up in Mrs. Akers’ class, nor came in tardy, nor threw spit wads.

My encyclopedia-riddled term paper was about T. S. Eliot. I had been writing poetry since I was a child, but I wasn’t familiar with a lot of poets. Eliot was in all our anthologies, and I liked Prufrock because of its elements of doom and rhythm and snooty mermaids. I made an A on the paper and the comment on the cover sheet was “An interesting and most informative paper.” I find it funny that this description is a phrase I use as a teacher when I have nothing better to say. To say a paper is “interesting” is to say it bored the hell out of me but oh well, you tried.

There is nothing original in this paper: I avoided plagiarism at all costs to make it “interesting.” I “Ibid” all over the place. Young folks: Look it if up if that word throws you. There are unintentionally funny lines, such as this one about his wife, “She was clever, witty, vivacious, depressed, nervous, and a death-muse.” I also like this line, “If ordinary people couldn’t understand such writing, then it was too bad for them.” Ibid.

In Poem Life, (premiering March 21), I will devote a few minutes to reading selected portions of this essay while also playing the frame drum, which will add the appropriate note of seriousness to the affair. The last line of my 6-page essay reads, “Eliot, though often difficult, demands thoughtful study.” Ibid., p. 606.

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