April 27, 2005
Teacher calls it threatening, students calls teacher cranky lefty . . .
by Dennis Johnson
Southern Connecticut State University has “barred a student from a poetry class after his professor said a poem he submitted contained veiled threats to sexually assault her and her 3-year-old daughter,” according to an Associated Press wire story. Student Edward Bolles‘ poem, called “Professor White,” is about “a Mexican student named Juan [who] has a sexual encounter with the daughter of his white professor.” Bolles says it “was meant to be a satirical piece about globalization.” But his professor, Kelly Ritter, told campus police “she believed the poem was a threat,” and she asked that Bolles be required to get a psychiatric exam. Bolles, a 36-year-old Mexican man who says he is a conservative and often has “political disagreements” with Ritter in class, was at first banned from the class while he was investigated, but school officials have since notified him that he can return to class. Bolles says says “he would not apologize and is concerned with how he will make up the two weeks of missed classes.” Meanwhile, he says of Ritter’s charges, “I think she flatters herself. This poem is about a lot more than a cranky teacher.”
• MORE: The AP has posed an excerpt of Bolles’ poem, “Professor White.”
Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives