Percopotomus prompt 3 – inside a poem, making it, Professor Wlecke, the raw side of literary criticism

     As a writer practically from birth, I didn’t think there could ever be anyone or anything that would dampen my enthusiasm for creativing until I met Professor Wlecke the fall of my junior year in college. He was a short, squat man who reminded me of a cross between Danny Devito and a Russian gulag superintendant, though it was his attitude more than his looks that drew the latter comparison. The first day of class, he walked into the room, perched on a barstool and stared at us for a good two or three minutes until we all started shifting in our chairs and glancing at each other. I suppose I remember his first words to us so well because they were the first really nasty ones anyone said to me about my choice of career. He said: “None of you in this room are writers. Up to this point, you’ve been told that all the pointless drivel you’ve cranked out over the years is good. Well I’m here to tell you it’s not. It’s nowhere close to good. It’s my job to expose you to the raw side of literary criticism, to teach you to crawl inside a poem, essay or piece of fiction and give it a colonoscopy. I’m here to make it hard on you, and I will do so. Making it easy on you won’t help you deal with rejection or get you published. If you want easy, then I suggest you not get your MFA. Any questions?”

     Of course, he knew there would be none. What could any of us have said after that? I honestly felt like I should have given him twenty push-ups. A couple of students got up and walked out, but after I thought about Professor Wlecke’s attitude and committed his rant to memory, I was angry. How dare he think he could crap all over my dream? What made him so special anyway? If he was such a great writer, he’d have had at least one story published somewhere. A Google search after class had revelaed nothing of the great Professor Wlecke’s literary career.

     Looking back, maybe my anger gave him what he wanted because I worked my butt off to prove I was better than he gave me credit for.  He stabbed every one of my papers with his seemingly endless supply of red ink, and he openly criticized my grammer skills in front of the class. He said I lacked creativity and that my books, if they were published would end up on remainder shelves within a week of their release.  I made it through Wlecke’s class with a B+ which was high praise coming from him. The old bastard nearly made me hate my lifelong passion and for that I hated him. If living well is the best revenge, then I’ve got the last laugh. Since I got my MFA, I have published two books with a third in the editing phase. Professor Wlecke? He never did get published. Last I heard, he was living in a retirement community teaching poetry appreciation to half-deaf senile old coots. Payback…you’ve gotta love it.

2 thoughts on “Payback

  1. LOL I wish this was true. I have a BA in political science with a strong desire to go to law school. I never had a teacher this bad, but the professor is modeled on my husband’s crappy Spanish I teacher in high school. She was obsesesd with Russian history and would lock the unruly students in her office during class if they acted out. They didn’t call her “la comunista roja” for nothing. I was just trying to use all the prompts in one short piece.:) Glad you liked it!

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