Because No System Defines Me

Will Hochman responds to an anonymous poem about leaving an academic career with a poem about staying.

January 10, 2011

For Anonymous, because I’ve never started a poem with “Because.”

Because no system interests me unless it is flawed in ways that challenge my flaws

Because Ph.D.-ing allows one to avoid the crush of work's redundancy with the joy of analysis

Because most systems humble us and help us see how to seek our own senses of power

Because the creative and scientific production of ideas is not linear and is never ending

Because the best way to be rewarded is to make your own expectations informed and doable

Because all the trauma of a system amounts to what makes me rise above it

Because my acknowledgment rests mostly in the truth of knowing who I am

Because education nurtures and creates second chances toward self-reinvention

Because professors have more say in advancing change than in most power structures

Because I have learned to play the game of proving my worth with parallel life rules

Because I understand my hardships are worthwhile for the abstract rewards of the job

Because in school I am only limited by my own lack of questioning

Because knowledge is never ending and life is short, I do not waste time on self-pity

Because I know how my learning light is spent I promise to keep it bright

Because I am where students are given to me

Because I came from a career of meaningless but excessive financial reward

Because I can write this poem as professional act

Because leaving teaching for me is leaving loving,

I am the academy.


Will Hochman is a twice-tenured full professor at Southern Connecticut State University who has taught first-year writing for more than 30 years. His most recent book of poems is Freer from Pecan Grove Press, and Facts on File has just published Hochman’s (with Bruce Mueller) Critical Companion to J.D. Salinger — A Literary Reference to His Life and Work.


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