I'm used to feeling a major relaxation at the end of Spring Semester each year, but this year the relaxation has only been partial. Partly, this is because I'm going to be teaching a summer course online, which begins next week, but the course won't really take that much time since almost everything is already online from last summer, the first time it was offered. Also, I'm going to be spending a month at the Blue Mountain Center up in the Adirondacks. That's obviously not a hardship -- quite the opposite, it's an luxury to be able to spend a month doing nothing but writing, reading & hiking around one of the most beautiful lakes in the country. It does, however, reduce the amount of time available to complete several projects around the house & yard. To say nothing of golf & bike riding. I just took my bike in for a tuneup this morning & I've already been to the driving range a couple of times, where I hit the ball better than I had any reason to expect. I guess I should be grateful that I'm not going to Vietnam this summer, as I had hoped earlier in the year. I did not get the NEH summer stipend I applied for, though it was always a long shot. (They funded around 70 of 800 proposals.) I wanted to do a series of interviews with Vietnamese poets as the foundation of a sort of poetic ecology of the country. Actually, I was very disappointed when I got turned down for the grant, though the proposal I submitted got some decent comments from the reviewers. It turns out they wanted me to provide a much more detailed schedule of activities while in Vietnam -- hard to believe any of them have actually worked there! (Otherwise, they'd understand the difficulty of predicting what will happen when.) My plan now is to resubmit the proposal for the summer following my sabbatical next spring. I should be in a better position to carry out my plans then, honestly. So it's going to be a compressed summer in anticipation of a compressed academic year, since I'm only teaching during Fall Semester, with a sabbatical in the spring. I want to use the summer to get a running start on my sabbatical -- don't want to have to waste any time "warming up" in the spring. To that end, I have been pulling disparate pieces of manuscripts together & trying to finish the things that are finishable in order to clear the deck for things that are going to take more extended & focused work.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

1 thought on “Summer”

  1. Happy Adirondacks, jd…


    How and why time finally frees us
    isn’t at first from itself of course
    in its secret room at the heart of a flower
    where beauty tortures and infects us

    with its false theories of perfection
    as if ideas were subject to gravity
    or ugliness were a superfluous thing
    when in spring or autumn sorrow

    takes off or resumes its bird-like edges
    trickling down or forced back up again
    into odd bits and pieces of flown pleasure

    into what seems terrifying we’re still trying
    to conceal still uncertain how to penetrate
    with open eyes the actual world.

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