I’m Sorry If You Misinterpreted My Erection as Anything Except Support For You as a Writer

It’s hard having a poet’s soul: a fictional confession

I n the past few days, my eyes have been opened. Several former poetry students of mine have given interviews to the press, interviews in which they’ve indicated they felt harassed, uncomfortable, or even attacked in my presence. They felt as if I had an interest in them that went beyond the simple, beautiful relationship of a professor and his pupils, many of whom happened to be supple-hipped women in their twenties.

My lawyer has advised me to remain silent, but I’ve devoted my life to encouraging students to find a voice. Therefore, I must address some of the specific allegations against me.

I’m an affectionate person. Ask any poet; our hearts just seem to be located a little closer to the surface of our skin. I like to hug my students when I sense a moment of connection between two souls. It’s nothing more than that. I certainly do not recall rubbing my erect penis against any woman, much less four of them, but if I did, it was only because I was in awe of their talent.

I take conference times with my students incredibly seriously. It’s true that I did occasionally go without pants during office hours, but that’s because I don’t believe there should be any barriers between a student and their mentor. And yes, I do have a special key that locks my office door from the inside, but I never intended it to be regarded as a threat. It’s only there to keep the muse from escaping.

I certainly do not recall rubbing my erect penis against any woman, much less four of them, but if I did, it was only because I was in awe of their talent.

I grew up in a different era. When I was in grad school back in the late seventies, we began every workshop by gathering in a circle and describing our genitals using iambic pentameter. It really loosened up those creative muscles. If I’m alone with a much younger woman whom I know admires me and I say something like “Bend over my desk so I can see your ass in that dress,” I am by no means trying to coerce her into a spanking. I am merely providing an example of a slant rhyme. It’s a harmless craft exercise, nothing more.

I’m a writer. Fealty to life’s emotional truths is one of my most sacred obligations. I deeply regret that my emotional truth differs so significantly from the narratives that have been presented in the media. But before I conclude this statement, I must address one more thing: I pat every student on the ass after they successfully defend their thesis. It’s not a sexual gesture. I don’t recall grabbing a specific student’s breasts and making a honking noise, but I must assume her memory is correct. I hope that in the future, she will remember it as nothing more than a spontaneous appreciation of her accomplishments as an artist.

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