Friday, April 03, 2015

No man of genius rises by tenure ... Nor woman

It is poetry month.

Prosaic I am, yes.  But, I love the idea of poems.
Having a book of poems around is like having flowers on the table.
Like playing an opera LP on a sunny afternoon.
Like having coffee with cheesecake.
Or better yet, having coffee with cheesecake while listening to an opera LP on a sunny afternoon in a room with a bunch of flowers in a vase.

But, prosaic I am.
Dull, boring, lacking in that poetic aesthetics.
That is me.
Some of us are born that way.

Yet, from time to time, I seek out poems.
Why not?

I searched for poems about teaching.
And came across this one, which is funny as hell, especially if you are like me dealing with teaching and teachers.
It is sarcastic.
Here it is for you, also, to enjoy.

With Tenure
by David Lehman

If Ezra Pound were alive today
(and he is)
he'd be teaching
at a small college in the Pacific Northwest
and attending the annual convention
of writing instructors in St. Louis
and railing against tenure,
saying tenure
is a ladder whose rungs slip out
from under the scholar as he climbs
upwards to empty heaven
by the angels abandoned
for tenure killeth the spirit
(with tenure no man becomes master)
Texts are unwritten with tenure,
under the microscope, sous rature
it turneth the scholar into a drone
decayed the pipe in his jacket's breast pocket.
Hamlet was not written with tenure,
nor were written Schubert's lieder
nor Manet's Olympia painted with tenure.
No man of genius rises by tenure
Nor woman (I see you smile).
Picasso came not by tenure
nor Charlie Parker;
Came not by tenure Wallace Stevens
Not by tenure Marcel Proust
Nor Turner by tenure
With tenure hath only the mediocre
a sinecure unto death. Unto death, I say!
Nature is constipated the sap doesn't flow
With tenure the classroom is empty
et in academia ego
the ketchup is stuck inside the bottle
the letter goes unanswered the bell doesn't ring.

(Ok, ok, poetry month posts are not new at this blog. Click here for the post from 2014, and this is from 2013. Hey, even from 2010 and 2009!)


Ramesh said...

Ha Ha Ha. A Prof accepting a rant against tenure ??? Pigs are indeed flying :)

Its amazing how your lot have protected the "divine right" to jobs for life. The other places where this happens is the US Supreme Court and with some shenanigans, the US Senate. No surprise that all three places are monopolised by old fossils - the author of this blog excepted (there are differing points of view on whether he is old, but there is near unanimity that he is not a fossil !)

Sriram Khé said...

I am insulted that you compared my job with what those morons at the US Senate do ;)

But, you have redeemed yourself by proclaiming that I am not a fossil. But, would it have killed you to note that it is a unanimous view? You had to write "near unanimity"??? tsk, tsk, tsk ...

Anonymous said...

In contrast to the sentiments expressed here, this is what Marie Curie once said.

"Humanity needs practical men, who get the most out of their work, and, without forgetting the general good, safeguard their own interests. But humanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to devote their care to their own material profit. Without doubt, these dreamers do not deserve wealth, because they do not desire it. Even so, a well-organized society should assure to such workers the efficient means of accomplishing their task, in a life freed from material care and freely consecrated to research."

As quoted in Astrophysics of the Diffuse Universe (2003) by Michael A. Dopita and Ralph S. Sutherland

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