Current Occupation: Creative Writing Coordinator and World Literature Coordinator at San Diego Mesa College
Former Occupation: Commercial Salmon Troller and Charter-boat Captain of The Starfisher in Depoe Bay, Oregon
Contact Information: Scott T. Starbuck communes with dolphin yoga masters off Encinitas, California, and frequently hikes in the Pacific Northwest. His most recent book, River Walker , is at Mountains and Rivers Press in Eugene, Oregon. His claywork is online at The Trumpeter Journal of Ecosophy at Athabasca University, and Untitled Country Review. Students at Glendale Community College in Arizona voted him “Teacher of the Year.”
Ode to Milton Shinklebauer
“The Common Core State Standards in English, which have been adopted in 46 states and the District, call for public schools to ramp up nonfiction so that by 12th grade students will be reading mostly ‘informational text‘ instead of fictional literature. [ . . . .] Among the suggested nonfiction pieces for high school juniors and seniors [is] ‘FedViews,’ by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (2009). [ . . . .] English teachers across the country are trying to figure out which poetry, short stories and novels might have to be sacrificed to make room for nonfiction. [ . . . .] Sheridan Blau, a professor at Teachers College at Columbia University, said teachers across the country have told him their principals are insisting that English teachers make 70 percent of their readings nonfiction. ‘The effect of the new standards is to drive literature out of the English classroom,’ he said.” — Lyndsey Layton’s article “Common core sparks war over words,” The Washington Post, December 2, 2012
While we respect your experience, evaluations, and publishing record,
we must deny your inclusion of Chinese poet T’ao Ch’ien (365 – 427)
because his poems are not consistent with our goal
to develop “productive community citizens.”
Surely, descriptions of Ch’ien’s job as “a caged bird longing
for remembered groves” or “a pond fish dreaming of deep seas”*
are deeply offensive to our business community as well as
your colleagues working to prepare students for success.
As a substitute, we suggest poet Milton Shinklebauer
who comes highly recommended by an anonymous donor.
Shinklebauer’s sonnets of Ford’s assembly line
and villanelles of Total Quality Management
have made him a sort of “capitalist Shakespeare”
consistent with our mission statement.
From now on, we hope you understand
free verse is completely out of the question.
* T’ao Ch’ien translations used with permission of Sam Hamill