Tag Archives: Iowa State University

Is a GED better than a PhD?

I come from a family background that was conflicted on the question of education. On the one hand, my grandparents (who raised me from the time I was three) realized that whatever hope I was to have of a better life than they’d had hinged on school. As such, there was never a moment in my life, once I was old enough to grasp the concept of what school was, when I didn’t simply assume that I’d go to college.

Growing up, I understood that learning came first. My grandmother taught me to read when I was four, and by the time I entered first grade I was reading on the fourth grade level, at least. My grandfather taught me math, and when I was five I could do fairly complicated problem strings that included long division. If there was homework to do, that came before play, and it was made clear that if my grades ever slipped, I wouldn’t be allowed to play sports at all. If I made an A they were happy. If I made an A- they were rather pointed in wanting to know what had gone wrong. Bs were unacceptable, and if I’d made a C I simply wouldn’t have gone home. Read more

VerseDay: in praise of transcendent poetry and good poetry teachers

In fall of 1987 I was in my first semester of an English MA program at Iowa State, and was taking a seminar in contemporary American poets. The class was an eye-opener for me, as I’d not read many poets later than Dylan Thomas, and if you’re going to be a real writer it’s always helpful to know a thing or two about the present day, right?

One of the writers we were reading was Charles Wright, a fellow Southerner who’s won a lot of awards and prizes, up to and including the Pulitzer. I have come to regard him as our finest living poet (although I have to admit that since I still don’t read as many contemporaries as I should, there may be somebody out there better that I just haven’t found yet).

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Everybody’s Wrong: Some Thoughts on the Boulder Riots of 1997

An edited version of this story appeared in the Denver Post on May 8, 1997 (p. 7B).

The past few nights in Boulder have seen student rioting unlike anything Colorado has experienced in years. Darkness has literally transformed the Hill into a bonfire-lit war zone, with drunken youths throwing everything they can pick up and the police responding with tear gas and rubber bullets. Both sides have taken casualties, although thankfully no one has died yet.

As unanticipated as this outburst has been, something disturbingly similar happened in May, 1988, at Iowa State University in Ames during the annual VEISHEA festival. Read more