Friday, October 25, 2013
(Scientist, for me, is anyone brave enough to take any course that leads toward a degree in engineering or the medical arts.)
These are some of my last-semester students (Angela, sadly, arrived too late for this photograph), which is to say, these are members of my family. Eric, over there on the left, just had a magnificent poem published in Apiary, and he has sent it to me, and I have read it, and I am not in any way surprised by its quality, nor by its heart, nor by its collectively powerful imagery. Not surprised, for I know Eric. I know the strength of his character and the reach of his art.
If you click on the link here, you will find his poem, which was written during his class with Professor Greg Djanikian. Greg's office sits above my classroom at Penn. On very good days, I have a chance to talk with him. It's because of Greg that I came to Penn to teach memoir as an adjunct. Because of him that I was allowed to teach a second class after conducting a first and sometimes (because of its small size) wobbly class.
Because of him that I have people like Eric in my life.
And also Christine, who is performing this evening and tomorrow evening in a show that she herself choreographed. Curtains are up at 7 PM at the Annenberg Prince Theater. I'd give anything to be there, but I cannot. Please go in my stead. Give her your love and your awe, for Christine inspires awe; she is endowed with specialness.
And also Chang, our remarkable artist, our no-way-is-English-her-second-language writer, our kind soul and purveyor of hot chocolate, our wise one. If you go up and down the campus at Penn you may find her writing, you may find her drawing, you may find her solving Organic Chemistry problems. She does it all. She does it with love.
And also Angela, who taught us all so much about love and forgiveness, who made us cry, who wrote the heck out of every single sentence. Someday I will have a picture of her, too, but in the meantime, look for beauty.
I am, as I said, the lucky one.
And I'll be back on the campus Monday night, at 7 PM, for a Live at the Kelly Writers House taping, joining Andrew Panebianco, Katie Samson, and Raphael Xavier for a WXPN event with Michaela Majoun. We'll be there on behalf of the 12th Annual First Person Arts Festival, which is launching in a matter of days now. Toni Morrison will be in town for that festival. Rita Dove. Ana Castillo. Sonia Sanchez. Others. I'll be joining Dani Shapiro on the stage and also teaching a memoir workshop focusing on food and kitchen spices, and so we'll be at Penn on Monday, talking about all this with WXPN.
Where would I be without my alma mater?