Monday, January 29, 2007

Too Hard

Many people have been linking Jim Harrison's New York Times essay on Karl Shapiro. My favorite line in it is about being a poet-professor: "I tried it myself but found the work too hard."

Harrison continues: "There’s a subdued but relentless hurly-burly in academia that swallows up discretionary time. It’s like living with a slight backache, not fatal but enervating."


RC said...

I went to the University of Nebraska to study under Karl Shapiro,unfortunately,nobody told me he'd left his position one semester before I got there.

Andrew Shields said...

I have never had such bad luck, but my doctoral advisor went to the Free University in Berlin in the fall of 1971 to study with Peter Szondi, only to have him commit suicide right after her first semester started. Ouch.

Donald Brown said...

War stories of missed connections with mentors aside, I'd like to comment on the comparison of academia to backache.

As one who has suffered from severe back trouble (herniated disc), I find the analogy interesting. In fact, when I don't have to think about academia (and of improving my marginal status within it), it IS like taking a walk unhindered, like the removal of a recurring pain.

Andrew Shields said...

I am happy to be far enough into academia to be involved with students and with intellectual discussion, while also being not so far in that I have to pursue intellectual discussion to the point of becoming ... well, academic! :-)

This keeps my back relatively free of pain. :-)