Saturday, January 9, 2010

Report from Sabbatical Land

The first in an occasional series, because it’s fascinating to hear about other people’s Research Agendas, isn’t it? I certainly think so. Maybe Catherine Gouge, recently returned from Sabbatical Land, or Lara Farina, still adrift somewhere, will provide us with additional reports.

My experience of Sabbatical Land thus far is strangely like my experience of Candy Land. You know, the game, with its Crooked Old Peanut Brittle House and Gumdrop Mountains and Molasses Swamp. It all starts out so pleasantly: I was skipping along…

One such swamp so far has been QVC, which now sells Hello Kitty jewelry. I’m not buying anything, of course, but I am learning a lot. For instance, did you know that Hello Kitty doesn’t have a mouth “because she speaks from the heart.” I know! Profound.

Other highlights of Sabbatical Land include a recent Nancy Drew-like trip to the stacks of the downtown library—the PR section, to be precise, where they keep the Canadians and it smells like a swimming pool.

The Canadian in question was Alice Munro. Regular readers of TCH will recall my Munro posts from last May and June. If anyone has a favorite Munro story, post a comment. I find it rather hard to choose, but for now will cast my vote for either “Meneseteung” or “How I Met My Husband.”

And how’s this for profundity: here’s Munro, in “Jakarta,” having just described a relatively innocent scene—life going along as we think it should—when suddenly the next steps aren’t so clear: “… after that the progression got dimmer and it was hard to be sure just when you had arrived at wherever it was you were going…” Indeed. Candy Land. Just like I said.

Oh, and yes, this is how poets do research.


  1. An interesting idea, but won't postcards from Sabbaticalandia lead to much gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, and wailing on the part of those who are not so blessed with vacation--err--research leave? Actually, English Department as tragedic chorus might be entertaining, but I don't really want the starring role in that play; it may end badly.

  2. Candy Land rocks my socks. I went antiquing over break and saw a vintage game set that I was seriously tempted to buy. But I didn't - I went for this gigantic 1950's-ish doll in a frothy looking dress. I'm such a nerd. I'm not complaining about that.