Thursday, May 31, 2007

"I Love Galesburg in the Springtime:" Off to Sarah's Graduation

Jack Finney is best known for such such science fiction/fantasy classics as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Time and Again. But my favorite Finney work is "I Love Galesburg in the Springtime," a short story in a collection of the same name. Finney was an alumnus of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, which has produced a number of notable writers. (Carl Sandburg, Galesburg's most famous writer, went to Lombard College, which later was absorbed into Knox). And I'm convinced that a new Knox alumna will join the ranks of those notable writers.

I'll be going to Galesburg with my family this weekend to attend my daughter Sarah's graduation. Bill Clinton will give the commencement address, so I don't expect to be bored. The ceremony will take place outside Old Main, where Lincoln and Douglas debated in 1858.

Sarah plans to combine poetry and fiction with environmental activism. Many of her poems are about endangered species. Here's an example:

Sumatran Rabbit

Perhaps, to be seen, you never wanted.
World’s rarest rabbit,
Remote mountain mammal,
News of you came only from dry fossils
And fragments of bone extracted
From owl pellets. Proof you were out there
And being eaten.

Only twice in eighty-two years
Have we seen you.
Your striped black fur the right disguise to blend in
With cool wet roots
By night only you forage the forest floor
By day you are invisible.

The local people say
They do not know you.
Perhaps your secret is theirs too,
And they pass you a knowing glance
As the scientists walk away.

-Sarah Jane Wylder
May 2005

Sarah will be going to the University of Maryland later this summer to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.


gerry rosser said...

Galesburg made the news over the last couple days, at the high school graduation. Some parents cheered for their child/children, and the school withheld diplomas. No cheering. That school is on the forefront of the "war" on terrorism.

Congrats on Sarah's graduation.

Patry Francis said...

Wonderful poem. Hope Sarah will eventually allow you to post a few more.

Peter said...

I like the last stanza especially.

I posted a set of my daughter's poems, too. It's a glorious thing to do.

I'll be in a writing program myself this summer, but if you have the time, perhaps we can link up when you're at College Park. We're about an hour from there.

steve said...

Gerry--The students in Galesburg finally got their diplomas. It was a dumb move on the school board's part. Actually the students weren't denied graduation, but just the symbolic diplomas. Still, the fact that all the students involved were African American made it troubling.

Patry and Peter. Thanks. I'm sure I can put a few more of Sarah's poems on the blog. Let me know where to find your daughter's poems on your site, Peter. And thanks for the invitation. I'm sure I'll be riding the Capitol down to D.C. in the next year.

Stacey said...

Congrats to your daughter!

gerry rosser said...

I was not aware of the African-American aspect of the cheering story. I guess the national media did not think it politically correct to mention it.

I was in Galesburg a couple of summers or so ago, and played a few tunes at an open mike in a little joint the name of which escapes me.

I've moved my blog to Wordpress. Hope to see you there.

Sustenance Scout said...

Steve, just came by to browse. As always, there's plenty in your blog to read (and read and read!); and all of it gives me so much to consider. Sarah's poem is a gem. I have a Sarah, too; our fiesty youngest. K.