8/365: Teacher’s Pet

January 8

Teacher’s pet

Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?


When I was in 9th grade, I moved to Tustin, California, and was moved from the regular class track to an Advanced Placement/College Prep track. My English teacher was Enola Sleeper. I remember most every piece we read that year because each time we started something new, she brought it to life somehow–mostly by reading the work. I remember her reading the poem “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound:

In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
— Ezra Pound

Simple stuff, so few words, but it made an impact. You could see black asphalt, petals, wetness…the blur of the faces. The Americans were in 9th grade: Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Capote. “Jake liked to open cans.”

After ‘Nola, we had Mr. Woods. He rocked our world with English Literature. Then, in 11th grade, we went back to ‘Nola. I can’t say what we learned, but I remember her reading works out loud, bringing them to life for us. I remember her reading…and explaining…”The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” I remember “Hap.” These poems spoke to me and became a part of my fabric.

‘Nola is the only teacher I have found from my past and friended on Facebook. She was a short, little round lady who laughed, loved literature, and lived a literary life. She instilled in me my love of literature and writing. Because of her, I joined the Amazing Instant Novelist site in an effort to keep my writings under a certain length. She is the only teacher who revealed a deep personal secret to us. She was named Enola, because it was “alone spelled backwards.” How sad is that?

I had numerous teachers who made an impact on my life. Most of them were the only constant in a life of eternal moving from city to city. I can name many, but I do think Mrs. Sleeper made the most significant and positive effect on my life overall. This wasn’t the most poetic tribute to her, but it does do her some justice.

I will be forever grateful to you for “Hap.”

Hap

BY THOMAS HARDY

If but some vengeful god would call to me
From up the sky, and laugh: “Thou suffering thing,
Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy,
That thy love’s loss is my hate’s profiting!”
Then would I bear it, clench myself, and die,
Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited;
Half-eased in that a Powerfuller than I
Had willed and meted me the tears I shed.
But not so.   How arrives it joy lies slain,
And why unblooms the best hope ever sown?
—Crass Casualty obstructs the sun and rain,
And dicing Time for gladness casts a moan. . . .
These purblind Doomsters had as readily strown
Blisses about my pilgrimage as pain.

Thanks, Mrs. Sleeper.

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