The following letter to the editor was published in the New York Times on March 23, 2019, following a call by the publication for readers to "discuss how the people they met and classes they took influenced them" in a section titled How College Changed My Life.
To the Editor:
I graduated from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1989 — good Jesuit liberal arts school, but by no means “elite.” The best professor I had there was a poet named Barbara Clarkson. A student of Auden and Roethke at Bennington College, she taught us how to write and be passionate about poetry. Her office was in the basement next to the janitor’s closet. She smoked cigars, ashing them into a cracked teacup she kept on her desk. I still read and write poetry today, and it’s because of her.
This is college to me: not so much where you go, but whom you meet once you get there.
The writer is the course materials specialist at Bowdoin College.
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