today is Robyn Bell’s birthday, it should be a holiday

robyn bellif you are reading these words it is partially due to the fact that many years ago i was in a Poetry 10 class at UCSB

and i asked the teacher, Robyn Bell, if she could help me with a 14 page epic love poem,
the stamp, that i’d written that summer while being an ice cream man.

after reading it she said things to effect that it was very very good.

and asked me if i always got bad grades like the one i was getting in her class.

i said yes.

she said, dont worry about that, many creative people get bad grades.

then she said, as a matter of fact, i normally teach at a college here called
the college of creative studies, where there are no grades
or tests, or finals, or grade point averages.

and then she invited me to apply.

needless to say it was the greatest educational experience ive ever had
in part because it gave me the confidence and time to do the one thing i really wanted to do:
write for the award winning college newspaper, the world famous daily nexus.

probably the finest college rag ever.

many of my co-horts at ccs were inspired by robyn in one form or another because
simply put, she is a magical person.

i could try to give you examples of her personality and how kind she was and gracious and encouraging, but others are that but they’re of this realm.

robyn has a spirit about her that radiates so many positive vibes that you just want to vibe right back.

she will let you make mistakes, she will alert you of them, and wait for you to figure it out and make it better. shes got time.

one thing she corrected me on was my juvenile use of the word gay and its offshoots.

“i know your characters are often chicago based boys who use common, present-day language, but try to have them say things we don’t expect.” was a little tiny note, in pencil, next to paragraph in question.

challenge accepted.

robyn taught some of my favorite classes including a poetry class where every week we had to write in different forms: sonnet, limerick, acrostic, narrative, etc. it was the one class i didnt feel like i made the best poems. very challenging but robyn made me feel like it was ok to fail as long as i tried.

during one of the classes she invited us to do something different for 5 minutes.

she said, write the worst few lines you can.

bad poetry pop quiz

pretty much the funnest and funniest 10 minutes of the year. because after we wrote them she had us read them out loud.

so in many ways robyn helped me learn to write better and coach better.

i just ripped off her easy going, extremely supportive style and prepared for magic to happen.

happy birthday to everyones favorite ucsb teacher