Saturday, April 19, 2014

The 5-2 Blog Tour

I try to alert everyone when there's a new poem at Gerald So's site The 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly.  It's always fun to see a new poem and  hear a new voice, so when Gerald asked me to be part of his annual blog tour and write about one of the poems, I was happy to take part.  It's not always easy to choose one to write about since I like nearly all of them, but this year one title called out to me: "The Adjunct Professor's Lament."  It's by Charles Rammelkamp, and it appeared on March 3.  You can read it here, and you should. 

I was taken with this one because as chair of a community college English department for many years, I had to hire a lot of adjunct professors.  They're the unsung heroes of academia, teaching classes for ridiculously low salaries and trying to impart a little knowledge. Sometimes the job has its hazards, and I suspect every teacher (not just adjuncts) has had a student a little like the one that Rammelkamp describes in his poem.  My own favorite memory of such a student is the one who might very well be the duplicate of the one in Rammelkamp's poem, the one who told me while ranting about her instructor and the grade she'd received, "Just because I'm mentally ill doesn't mean I'm crazy."

What's the risk of having a student like that, and what's a teacher to do?  The instructor in the poem has one answer.  I expect it's one that many others have also found.  So much for the semicolon.


nlevinedesign said...

Charles Rammelkamp speaks aloud what others, like myself--a tenured professor now retired--have felt. In a way, it was a relief to read this humorous, bluntly honest and compassionate poem, because it got to the heart of a problem: how does one preserve one's self-respect when forced into a ridiculous and impossible situation. Pass the mentally unstable and dangerous student and let loose on the world someone who could potentially do more than make semi-colon errors? Or put oneself in danger? The dangers are various and obvious, either way. Thank you, Charles.

Unknown said...

Thanks for this comment. It's a serious dilemma.