Saturday, February 27, 2010

Earthquake in Chile

I awakened when dreamland gave way beneath
my bed.

-Pablo Neruda, "Earthquakes," Canto General

As we await news of the devastating earthquake in Chile and await the progress of the anticipated tsunami across the Pacific, I note that the epicenter of the (albeit, offshore) quake was very near Parral, a city in Linares Province in the Maule Region, some 220 miles south of Santiago.

This is the birthplace of Pablo Neruda.

Albion College: It Just Keeps Getting Worse

A commentator who calls himself(?) John Doe and who seems to know a great deal about what is happening at Albion College left the following comment to my earlier post on the decision to cut 10% of the faculty (approximately 15 full-time equivalent positions) as part of a "cost cutting" move at Albion College.

I did not want Mr. Doe's comment to go unnoticed.

After reading this, I wonder if we should change the name of the school to "Aspirational College."

Mr. Doe writes:

The situation is somewhat more distressing than the official notice lets on.

The president and Board of Trustees also want to suspend the Faculty Handbook in order to enforce the cuts with minimal interference or input from the faculty.

Another indication of concern is that some recent pronouncments from the administration refer to other schools in the GLCA (which includes schools such as Oberlin, Kalamazoo, DePauw, Hope, Kenyon) as an "aspirational" group. In the past these were considered as peer instutitions. But now it seems Albion is being positioned in a peer group with slightly less prestigious regional schools like Alma, Adrian, and Olivet -- not that there's anything so bad about those schools, but if students and parents are being asked to pay out some $30,000 a year, they should also know what comparisons to make.

Friday, February 26, 2010

O, Canada!

Cigar, beer, hockey, gold medal.


This is so TOTALLY my kind of woman.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Big Trouble in Little Albion

I graduated from Albion College in 1974. Today, I (along with all members of the "Albion College family") received an e-mail from Donna Randall, the President of the college. Here it is, in relevant part:

"As we continue to deal with the effects of the economic recession, colleges and universities across the nation, including Albion, are faced with some exceedingly difficult financial decisions.

After thorough deliberation, the Albion College Board of Trustees has determined that the College must reduce the size of the faculty to bring it into alignment with current and anticipated numbers of students. The attached letter details the reasons for this decision and outlines the process that will be followed in achieving these reductions. This action is the latest in a series of measures taken over the past 18 months to balance our revenues and expenses. We believe that at the end of this process Albion College will emerge as a more vibrant institution, fully focused on its strengths..."

The proposed cuts would eliminate 15 full-time faculty positions, which is approximately 10% of the faculty.

I am not sure what is going on at Albion; it used to be a highly regarded liberal arts college, but its reputation and national rankings have slipped in recent years. The economic downturn in Michigan--in the economy as a whole--certainly has not helped.

At the same time, I must admit I have mixed feelings about the college, its poor relationship with its graduates, the ham-handed way it does things (e.g., tearing down the Gerstacker International House) and what it perceives its mission to be.

Here's a link.

Before saying more, I want to think about this.

Friday, February 05, 2010

After Breakfast and Before Lunch, I Remembered This, Thank God

"People with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest."

-Hermann Hesse, Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth (1919)

Power Rankings: Is Tony Hoagland the Carolina Panther(s) or the Chicago Bear(s) of American Poetry? Or is He Somewhere In-between?

There are 15 or 20 better poets in America than Tony Hoagland, but few deliver more pure pleasure. His erudite comic poems are backloaded with heartache and longing, and they function, emotionally, like improvised explosive devices: the pain comes at you from the cruelest angles, on the sunniest of days.

I am not sure what to make of an article that begins as strangely as Dwight Garner's review of Tony Hoagland's new collection of poetry, Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty (Graywolf Press, 2010). What does it mean to be ranked the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, or 21st Best Contemporary American Poet? How are such ranking determined? According to whose standards?

As Lil' Wayne might put it, I think someone is "Talkin' &*%# like Lane Kiffin."

However, Garner's is a generally positive review of a very good book. And if there really are 15 or 20 better poets out there, I suspect 5 to 7 of them are publishing a new book every year or so. Does this mean the New York Times will be giving us more poetry reviews amid "All the News That's Fit to Print"? Why should we settle for a review of a book by someone, however amusing, who may only be the 21st Best Poet in America?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Walden Green Montessori School

As Wittgenstein noted, what we cannot comment upon we must pass over in silence.

Where Do the Buffalo Roam?

Are you someone I owe something to? I'm not talking about an $80 bar tab from 19 years ago. Good luck getting that one out of me.

But do I owe you something, maybe, in writing? Or about writing? Or a straight answer to a simple question?

I am no longer shouting "NIXON! NIXON!" at the FAX machine. Soon, you shall have whatever I owe to you.

Gonzo promise.