Carmine Sarracino is another Elizabethtown College connection; he was a professor of mine. The first class I had him for was about fantasy in literature. Any class that has Frankenstein and the Ramayana on its required reading is usually a good class to take.
I also took a couple of creative writing classes from him. In my senior year, I needed to carry a full course load so I arranged an independent study with Carmine as an advanced poetry writing seminar. One of the best things I ever did. We’d meet every other week or so and workshop something I was working on. It was a great opportunity to see how another poet’s mind works.
I first read William Stafford in 1989. I took a modern poetry class at Elizabethtown with Dr. Tom Dwyer. The required reading consisted of some anthology I don’t really remember, the collected poems of John Ashbery (who makes an appearance later this month in the PM posts) and the collected poems of Stafford. The two poets made a strong impression on me and ignited my fondness for modern poetry. They inspired me and set me on a path to writing better poetry of my own and an eventual Stafford connection (check back later in the month for that).
Stafford’s poems in particular said what I would have said had I his gift for words. “A Story That Could Be True” is one of my all-time favorite poems, from the fairy-tale-esque beginning to the fundamental question of “who are you really, wanderer?” Stafford’s answer to the question seems obvious without being egotistical. I could be a king. One never knows.
Memory is a weird thing.
One day you can suddenly remember the Eagles game you went to at Veteran’s Stadium. You can see your view of the field, feel the chill in the air. You can see friends and family there with you. You remember the idiot a couple rows back who, upset at something the Eagles had done, threw the remnants of a soft pretzel at the field, but hit you instead. You clearly remember the piece of pretzel had mustard on it.
Even though it never happened.
Much of who I am today can be traced back to a chilly evening in 1989. Not knowing then how important Jan. 30, 1989 would be to me, I have no recollection of what I ate that day, what I wore or what the temperature was (I said chilly but a search tells me the high that day was 50 and the low 35, so not so chilly).
I can guess I took a little extra time picking out what to wear and how to wear my hair. I would have walked from my dorm room in Founders (B-2, if you want to know), across the practice fields and into the BSC. I likely wandered around the theater, trying to figure out which door I should go in. I may have encountered people I already knew (Kris, Jay and Viv). I’m pretty sure I passed people who I had never met but who would become important parts of my life.
If you haven’t heard already, MTV is planning a remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. You may remember it as a movie you watched once or twice at midnight while throwing toast and shouting, “Dammit, Janet!” At some point, you’ve taken that jump to the left. I’ve got my own memories of the movies, that I’ll get to it in a second.