Higher Education Webinars

The Education of Oronte Churm

Oronte Churm is the pen name of John Griswold, who teaches in the MFA program at McNeese State University, proudly nestled in Cajun country on the Louisiana Gulf.

June 27, 2011 - 12:45am
Final couplet to an unwritten poem: A desperate way of living, calledGet It While You Can.
June 24, 2011 - 3:00am
A and Z have a child whose tonsils must come out. The child wakes from anesthesia in great pain and confusion, calls for A hysterically. Z tries to step in, but the child wants only A, who climbs into the hospital bed to hold and calm him. Z: (jealously) I knew this would happen.
June 23, 2011 - 3:30am
A departmental faculty meeting somewhere in, oh, let’s say...Texas. A lit-crit professor praises his absent colleague, a creative-writing professor. “He’s a great writer, no doubt about it. World-class, and a very nice guy. But he’s no scholar, so why’s he get all the foundation money? He shouldn’t be in the university.”
June 22, 2011 - 4:00am
June 21, 2011 - 6:30am
Viewing a fossilized mammoth skeleton at the Children’s Museum. The spread of the pelvis, wide as an elephant’s ears. The curved radius of ribs. Together, pelvis and ribs define what’s gone missing: The giant’s bag of viscera—all the fluid, dark, red, gurgling organs the first to go. What is most alive goes most noticeably absent. The embarrassment of bones.
June 20, 2011 - 6:15am
At a party, Dr. S, a Chinese neurologist practicing in the Midwest on exchange. Young, funny, has also worked in New York. Says family doctors aren’t aware of the latest technologies and still think there’s a possibility of MS when his MRI shows no brain plaque—what he calls “old CAT-Scan ideas.” “I can’t guarantee there’s not a single cell of cancer, though,” he laughs. He mocks hypochondriacal American university types: The cellist with the “tight” arm, the healthy administrator who calls him every two weeks and has had three MRIs so far.
June 16, 2011 - 11:15pm
D, a married man: "I'm sick at home today, sniffing magazine perfume ads and pretending I'm with another woman."
June 15, 2011 - 9:45pm
One of the central problems of art--what to see and how to frame it--defined by three very different artists. Note that James, who works in the form requiring the most volume (prose), also expresses the greatest anxiety about the ability to capture something significant. Henri Cartier-Bresson (The Decisive Moment): "[A photograph is] the simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms.”
June 15, 2011 - 7:45am
Young woman arguing angrily with her mother in a grocery store in rural West Virginia, just last year: "Mom! Get with it! It's the 20th century!"
June 14, 2011 - 6:30am
A teenager and his siblings make a list of the common sayings of their parents: “Let me tell you…”; “When I was your age…”; “What you need to do is…”; etc. They write them on individual slips of paper, shuffle them and hand them out. At dinner, the parents hold forth; someone suddenly but quietly mutters, “Bingo.”

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