I know some of my disciples have been missing the poems I usually post. This time, I decided against choosing a Poet of the Week. Instead, I've been reading the fall issue of the poetry journal Rattle, which featured poems by and about adjuncts. You know, those underpaid "part-time" instructors on college campuses across the country.
I am a contingent professor. Have been for twenty-some years. The poems in this issue of Rattle really spoke to me on a very deep level. They made me sad. Made me angry. Made me laugh. Therefore, I have decided to share a few of my favorites from the issue.
I type this post right now in my university office. In less than a half hour, I will walk down the hall, into a classroom, and spend the next three-and-a-half hours trying to get a group of young people excited about writing and research. First year composition. It's not an easy gig, and there are some tenured faculty who get paid a great deal more money than me to teach the same class. That's what being a contingent is all about.
In two days' time, when my name is announced in Stockholm by the Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, I'm hoping to become the first contingent professor to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Certainly, that would qualify Saint Marty to teach at least a class in mythology.
The Adjunct's Villanelle
by: Anna M. Evans
You just come in and teach, then you can go,
she says, distracted by her tenure file.
I wish someone would tell my students so.
From there I leave to meet with one who's slow
to understand the work. It takes a while
to teach him what he needs. Then, I can go.
Another text: the fetus didn't grow.
She's on bed rest for weeks. Can I compile
the work she'll miss? I can, and tell her so.
Two student emails wait: one's in a show
and really wants me there. Good kid. I smile
and write back saying I'll be thrilled to go.
The second wants a reference. Just say no,
I'm told. I could, but cannot reconcile
this with the student I remember. So,
The one whose mom died doesn't need to know
my story, how I have to swallow bile
when I hear how I come, and teach, and go.
I don't. I wish someone would tell them so.