Orange Harvest Moon

Heather Dubrow muses through poetry about the careers of humanities Ph.D.s.

August 9, 2018

A field exuberantly growing

careers that will be harvested?

Or does that promised carrot

just glimmer on some hope-filled pond?


Veggie or algae?



Look -- so many universities

dangle that carrot

to feed their hunger for applicants,

to plump their thinning budgets,

to fool those who dream of lives in academe.

And yes, to fuel their hard driving faculty:

“My list of dissertators is bigger than your list.”


Thus the egos

of faculty infectious with

puffy ambition

swell and redden,

bloated and boasting.

And thus they proudly brand

would-be careers with few buyers

in our heartless markets.



But don’t forget the farmers

who take their work to heart:

plowing through dissertation chapters,

planting true seeds but not false hopes

with grad students they learn from and with.


And how about the programs that attempt

to diversify by rotating crops --

Professor? But maybe arts administrator, technical writer, editor.. . .

Are these new carrots wholesome food?

Can this new menu sustain and be sustained?


Heather Dubrow is the John D. Boyd, S.J., Chair in Poetic Imagination at Fordham University. The institutions at which she has previously taught include Carleton College, the University of Maryland at College Park and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Among her publications are seven monographs, as well as a book-length collection and two chapbooks of her own poetry.


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