George Slone

The Capitalist University

Professors—by their collegial

silence and acquiescence,

as well as unquestioning

adherence to diversity as an

evident diversion from

ubiquitous fraudulence

—had permitted universities

to become co-opted by the

business model—white, black,

female, male, what difference?

—where speaking truth,

rather than widespread,

constituted a rare act of


Thus was the Capitalist University.


As a man, poet and, when employed, professor, I’d

played their game poorly—backslapping, trivia,

educationist inanity, and the muzzle of cowardice

had never succeeded becoming me.

Failed I had at fitting in and playing in their teams,

dog-eat-dog ever looming behind their backs—I

could not, for the life of me, flourish in their

ambience of small-talk collegiality,

always at the expense of free expression and dignity.

Why I'd wonder was I the only one on campus

with a Socratic daemon in his gut?

Why I'd wonder did the system attract so many

ostriches, rats, and teddy bears, instead of men?

Did they not even realize how harmful their cocoons

to students, the nation, and democracy?

Sure, I’d stepped up to the plate and provoked

vigorous debate, but always got nothing in return,

except free days, unemployment checks, and scorn.

You might wonder whether or not I’d do it all again,

if given such a chance, but if you’ve gotten this far,

you wouldn’t, for you already know the response.

George Slone © 2009

A Teaching Philosophy

That Ought to Be Banal in Higher Education, But Instead Is Evidently Quite Rare* Go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

Speak truth, write truth,

be aware of the blinders you adorn!

Speak truth, write truth,

dare remove them, here and there!

Speak truth, write truth,

be aware of the muzzle you have on!

Speak truth, write truth,

risk taking it off, now and then!

Speak truth, write truth,

toughen up

—don’t be so easily offended—

democracy depends on it!

Speak truth, write truth,

open your arms to criticism,

learn from it, create from it, and grow!

Speak truth, write truth,

never quell the speech you hate,

always welcome vigorous debate!

Speak truth, write truth,

thrive on logical argumentation

and supporting illustration

—tread always upon ad hominem!

Know what you gain from not heeding

these simple tenets—career, salary, friends,

invitations, publications, and grants—,

know also what you just might lose—

integrity, veracity, dignity, and self!

Speak truth, write truth,

question and challenge all dictums, ideologies,

and philosophies—and don’t ever forget

to question and challenge me!


*This poem was inspired by an application requisite for a visiting assistant professor of American Literature position at Wilkes Honors College, Florida Atlantic University.  It was sent to that college with the thought that if students at an honors college could not be taught thusly, then democracy was likely already a system of the past.  Never would I hear from anyone with its regard.


Poem #9 for the Edification of Lit Cogs

Criticize the overfed—

their writing, art,

poetry reviews, or



inevitably they’ll resort

to ad hominem rhetoric.

Criticize them with

irrefutable logic, and

they’ll become

irrevocably offended,

might oddly even argue

“the validity of your views”*

“pretty worthy,”

though will

entirely avoid the

criticism, assert that you

“come off as

extremely sanctimonious,”

and that the “smugness

and elitism inherent”

in what you’d written

to be no less than



*Words in quotes are remarks made by Ty Burr, Boston Globe columnist, RE my criticism of one of his columns.

George Slone © 2009