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 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.”
June 13, 2011 - 5:30am
“If you don’t know any better, then what you got is the best there is.”--Frenchy, on how my son loved his Cub Scout den meetings, where they ate sweets, discussed daytime TV, and thrashed in the floor.
June 10, 2011 - 1:00am
Walking Wolfie in to preschool, hand-in-hand. He asks me to go with him down the hall to the classroom. Then, precise routine of goodbye, three kisses each—left cheek, right cheek, forehead. His are wet. He lingers at the door in his red baseball cap and fleece-lined corduroy jacket, waves again. I walk up the sidewalk to the car, a cold fall morning, my cheeks tingling where he kissed me. Love.
June 9, 2011 - 5:15am
First Words of Lines in an Academic Consent Form: A Found Poem For Emily R. You are freeYou are invitedYou are welcomeYou are under no obligationYou may withdraw You were selected(No compensation will be made)You will be recorded(The recording will last)You might therefore feel uncomfortableYou are making a decision Your signature indicates you have read and understood:There are no known risks in this study beyond those of ordinary life.
June 8, 2011 - 4:00am
Walking down the block, a nice day. A bird’s entire wing lying on the sidewalk, not a feather missing from the pattern, unruffled. Only a spot of dried blood at the head of the humerus where it once attached to the body. The wing the size of a robin’s, probably a victim of one of the huge crows or the occasional hawk in the neighborhood. The sense that life is modular, meant to come apart and recombine.
June 7, 2011 - 5:45am
Intermediate undergrad who writes short stories about a violent, retributive pedophile-killer named Thornhead. Never mind the student’s own anger, fears or fantasies; he doesn’t see connotations of the name, says he doesn’t even know where he got it. Angrily insists it and the story are meaningless; he just wanted a bunch of things strung together with no purpose.
June 5, 2011 - 10:45pm
Two professors at a tiny table near the register in a campus coffee shop. Loud and animated as people try to walk past with hot drinks. One flips her shawl dramatically and shouts to the other: “She said, ‘I know you’re a brilliant scholar, but you’re just like my mom!’”
June 2, 2011 - 11:45pm
Y says he knew a veteran of a French Foreign Legion parachute regiment. The man had a giant tattoo on his torso of Jesus Christ, bloodied and on the cross, suspended under a parachute, with a big banner below it that read: Airborne Motherfucker. I asked if there was a comma between the words, but Y didn’t know.
June 1, 2011 - 11:45pm
That odd feeling when time comes unstuck in us. To read Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night (1934) and find the name “Miss Television,” or see in his Gatsby (1925) a swastika. Realizing with a start I was born only 18 years after the liberation of the camps, or that I joined the army myself only seven years after Vietnam. My students’ gasps when I tell them my grandfather was born in 1883. How is it possible? A comic hurt at the betrayal by time, become suddenly nonlinear, surprising.

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