Southern Eclair

With Photos by E. Clair and Kristen L. Smith

2 notes

For all the things I feel bad about,
and for all the things I don’t;
for all the times I was wrong,
and for all the times I wasn’t;
for all the things I thought I heard,
and for all the things they said;
for all the times I laughed until I cried,
and for all the times I just cried;
for all the people who left me,
and for all the people I left;
for all I have ever been,
and for all I still have to be:
this is why I skate.

Filed under roller derby

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In the mornings, I teach a class of devotees about how the Ancient Greeks only cared about not being passive—“All that mattered was who did the poking, not what you were poking. Sex ain’t never had a utopia.” In the afternoons, I raise kids and try to convince them that elementary school is worth something when I know a lot of it is not. In the nights, I skate outside in the swamp heat, hitting women hard with my shoulders and then laughing with them. Before bed, I write to people I don’t even know.

"Well, we’re all half crazy.
Half clear as a bell.
Half believer
and half going to hell.”
("Half Crazy" by The Barr Brothers)

Filed under professor mother roller derby Half Crazy The Barr Brothers

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I was informed this morning that students are now wandering around calling each other “slut penguins” because of a lecture yesterday where I explained the differences between human sexuality and other animal sexualities: “Do you think penguins walk around saying, ‘That Sally penguin is such a total slut. I mean, just look at how she waddles her penguin butt.’?”

image

Filed under sexuality sexuality studies being a professor college slut shaming

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Claudia Rankine was the first person to teach me to write poetry, and the first to teach me about Toni Morrison. She never gave me an A for my academic writing, but she did for my poetry. My insecurity told me that meant I needed to focus more on my academic writing. It’s funny what we do with the feedback we’re given.

She’s in The New Yorker today, Claudia, having been drawn to Ferguson, Missouri. And I’m here in Arkansas—an English professor—far away from the time and place where I knew her, having spent decades on my academic writing, working and working on it until I didn’t care what anyone thought of it anymore and could finally say what I wanted to.

Filed under Claudia Rankine poets poetry being a professor

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When I finally arrived home from my long day, a note was on my chair, which David had written and left there for me to discover:

"For You,
who writes, thinks, and lives like a dervish.

From ‘Sappho in Levkas’ by W.A. Percy

'To think nobility like mine could be
Flawed—shattered utterly—and by
This, this the shame, O Zeus, that Thou must hear—
A slim, brown shepherd boy with windy eyes
And spring upon his mouth!
Mine Thou hast made the courage to face truth,
Tho’ truth were death; but face alone!
Before Thine eyes to strip my passion till
Naked its evil gleams—here—now—oh, all
The harsh and iron of my soul must forth
Ere shame’s rebellion in my blood be quelled,
And Thou familiar made with my reproach!…
Courage and truth, these two are not of earth!

Hearken, Thou, Zeus, and judge if, at the last,
In spite of all, I am not half divine,
Loving these two.’”

Filed under poetry marriage love