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A Ghost of UW Past

Earle Birney, a Canadian poet, was the Writer in Residence at UW (then Waterloo University) from 1967-1968. During his career, he taught creative writing at several universities, including the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto. Following is a poem that he wrote about the University.


after the calorestimated meal
in the male hall
they walk back to the compulibratories
keeping to the asphalt paths
conceived by the landtects

sometimes a thousand are in forward motion
engimechs the plureality         at 0826 hrs
in pairs         with crewcuts         hands by flanks
& slightly crooked below rainbreakers (yellow)
with U of W on the back
ENGINEERS on upper sleeve L
& black number upper R

since none of this is actually required by deans
nor the gloves (black)         hushpuppies (grey)
nor absence of headcover & expression
what is felt is communiternity         a capusalt

the mathamen         cruts not quite so short
are sometimes grouped in 3s
but otherwise all waterloobed:
hands by flanks & slightly...(yellow)...
almost striking—communalove at least

a few artsies yet (terminal class of '71)
midearburns / 1 in 10
dress as above of course
but some have briefcases in R hand
wear their ARTS upon their sleeves
& walk alone


Source: Earle Birney, ONE MUDDY HAND: Selected Poems, Harbour Publishing, 2006.