A Hundred Gourds 3:1 December 2013
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A personal response to a tanka by Michael McClintock

by Owen Bullock

living the poem
as she had written it
I fell headlong
down the great hole
in the heart of the city

Michael McClintock, Notes From the Gean #18

In my third year at university, we read Emerson. He advocated, among other things, the abandoning of universities. He even offered this opinion in a lecture at Harvard (‘The Divinity School Address’, 1838), and they didn’t invite him back for thirty years. I loved Emerson, and had a working class chip on my shoulder about universities, so I felt the only correct thing to do, to honour this great writer, was to drop out after two and a half years, and one semester short of my bachelor’s degree. I, too, fell headlong down a hole in the city, or rather a whole in the country to which I retreated. Obviously, I had a massive tendency towards self-sabotage and this tanka reminds me of that era. McClintock shows the connection between the poem and life, and the way in which one can intoxicate the other.

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