Saturday, October 13, 2007

Emulating John Milton's Career--By Necessity

Most of the people who come to my blog via a Google search, come in search of information about particular musicians or albums. My blog hasn’t yet been listed among academic blogs, probably because I don’t delve into composition theory or describe my daily experiences as an online instructor. A few of the literary blogs include mine in their blogroll; more of them, particularly ones devoted to poetry, might include me if I were to devote more attention to my poems and poetry in general.

Although I have had intentions of writing poetry more often, that desire hasn’t been fulfilled. Like every semester, this one has been incredibly busy and requires that I devote a lot of attention to grading. Institutions of higher learning, I think, should set a maximum limit on how many students can be taught by any one writing instructor. That limit should be set at sixty students, or three sections of twenty students each, while ensuring that the instructor earns a full-time salary with benefits for that kind of teaching load. Education suffers when one is burdened with ninety or more students at the start of the semester.

In actuality, institutions of higher learning in this country set a trend by choosing to hire part-time employees in a field like composition, beginning in the 1970’s. That hiring practice was adopted in business and remains in effect for a good number of the jobs that remain in this country. When the profit margin takes precedence over the quality of education and over the commitment of any one institution to its employees, it stands to reason that part-time employees are more attractive because of the ease with which they can be fired, the absence of benefits, and the wretched salaries for which they work.

I have come to realize that my poems aren’t going to help me in securing a tenure-track job within the near future. Maybe I should be angry at not having my poems accepted by the better journals, and at not having my book accepted, and react by writing more and more poems. One of my writing teachers once recommended that kind of behavior. Instead, I have been turning away from poetry. As of this month, ten years have now passed since I defended my creative dissertation.

I foresee a time when I will be able to devote more attention to my poetry. Like John Milton, who prepared for his writing by earning two degrees at Cambridge, by reading extensively in several different languages when he returned to his father’s estate, and by touring the Continent for several years afterwards, I have prepared myself for that time in my life when it will be possible to devote myself exclusively to my craft. When that time will arrive is not known as of yet.