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SHOES TO FILL, OR DON’T MAKE ME LAUGH

Poem by Gerald Locklin

I saw today, in Coda: The Poets’ and Writers’ Newsletter,
A highly amusing item:

The State University of New York at Binghamton
Is advertising to fill the Chair
Formerly held by John Gardner.

Among the qualifications is that the candidate
Possess “similar achievements” to Gardner’s.

Maybe they haven’t heard in Binghamton
That Hemingway, Faulkner and Edmund Wilson
Are all also dead.

Photo: John Gardner (1933-1982), novelist, essayist, literary critic, university professor. Winner of the 1976 National Book Critics Circle Award for his novel October Light, Gardner was also the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Sunlight Dialogues and Grendel. After Gardner died in a motorcycle accident in 1982 at age 49, Harpur College of Binghampton University issued a classified ad for his replacement — as Gerald Locklin describes in his poem “Shoes to Fill, or Don’t Make Me Laugh.”