I happened across Wayne Scott’s essay Damn Your Meddling Ways in my college alumni magazine, and it put my nostalgia gears in motion. I was in this course and inspired to be a writer by Wayne Booth. Booth even helped me get my first essay published. I don’t think I was one of the four students who come in later to meet with Booth; I don’t remember discussing Yeats’s poem Sailing to Byzantium, which is too bad. It starts with the recent Hollywood inspiration “That is no country for old men” and continues to “An aged man is but a paltry thing,” taking us through to eternity and “what is past, passing, or to come.”
I remember Lawrence’s Piano and Browning’s Fra Lippo Lippi and Booth asserting that all poetry is about sex (I still disagree) and his absolute love of language. It also got me to remembering some of the other students in our select class of 12, who spent the year writing papers once a week. I’ve often wondered what happened to the other budding writers in that course. I found one of them, hiding in plain sight, this kid named Alan. It turns out the kid named Alan is Alan Cullison, who has walked a writing path with some similarities to mine. He’s a long-time Wall Street Journal reporter and was a Nieman Fellow. We’re connected now, and I hope that will be a good thing for both of us.
Because nostalgia aside, it strikes me as strange that I did not keep in touch with the other members of the class, draw support as a writer from these others who shared my fascination with the written word.