First part: I went into job #2 during December and saw a business card by the cash register. It was a U of U card for a professor with a doctorate, Katherine Coles. Katy Coles! I had an intermediate poetry class with her at the U, back when I wanted to get a double major. I never really talked to her but remember admiring and envying her poems, her gray pants, her songwriting skills, her poetic dark straight hair that did what she wanted it to. (I still had long curly hair then. Or rather, the hair had me.) I looked around my second job during Christmas in retail hell, had a little moment of “Huh. Wonder where I’d be if I had pursued English to a doctorate level” and forgot about it.
Second part: I was reading the coverage of Ralph “O RLY?” Becker’s swearing in yesterday in the Tribune, and noticed that he read a poem from Utah’s Poet Laureate. Guess who? Katherine Coles. She’s written two novels and four poetry collections; she’s been published in the Paris Review and the New Republic; she’s a Utah Poet Laureate who can actually write, unlike the last one. (Check out the poem—very Mark Strand.)
I can’t really express my feelings about these two stories. (I bet Katy could!) There’s some “That could be me,” some “But I scorn the idea of a state poet laureate,” some “I have a glamorous ad job,” some “Well, it isn’t really glamorous but I bet professors don’t earn lots of money, either” and all sorts of things in between. You know the medley that ends side two of Abbey Road, with You Never Give Me Your Money, Polythene Pam, She Came In Through The Bathroom Window, and Carry That Weight (“a long time”)? Oddly, that’s exactly how I feel.