"Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man." -- Heidegger
To that semester with Frank, I credit my transition into adulthood. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we wondered, upon being accepted into Iowa, whether we were admitted for the caliber of our work or for a reason unknowable, perhaps political, and certainly lucky. But after that first semester with Frank, I had no doubt that it was my writing that bought my ticket, and nothing else. Frank's devotion to the written word made it clear that we create our own success as writers. What he was to us—harsh or kind, mysterious or candid, even-keeled or eccentric—he was because he wanted each of us to write something amazing. Did he take himself seriously? Yes. Did he take himself too seriously? In my opinion, no. His was an example we should follow. Writers who curb their own opinions in order to please the greatest number of people make for dull writers. If we stop writing to entertain, if we stop writing to offend, if we limit what we offer to what is a sure thing (vanilla, chocolate, swirl), then we’ll lose what small literary readership we have. If we take ourselves as seriously as Frank sometimes seemed to do, we’ll write with recognizable opinion, unafraid of critics. The readers will know, and they’ll love us for it. As we mourn, let’s also remember Frank’s devotion to his work. And remember that his work was us.
Here are some letters to Frank from students.
I love this picture. Don't we look hopeful? Maybe it was just the promise of the beer we were about to drink. But still.
We do look very bright eyed and bushy tailed. (Although slightly horizontally distorted, don't you think?) Anyway, thanks, SER for taking that picture. I appreciated it then, and I appreciate it now.I think my absolute favorite part of Iowa was coming out into that foyer after workshops on Tuesday evenings, ready to go out to Mickey's or Mondo's and toss back a drink or two (yeah, right; more like five) and re-hash, reflect, laugh, bitch, moan, revel, and marvel at all that had just happened.
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