When Teachers Were Lions

Sadly, I passed on taking a writing workshop from Raymond Carver when the American Checkov was still alive. I heard he was a bit of a terror but raw and real, like his short stories.

And I arrived too late at the University of a Washington to learn to write and to appreciate poetry from Theodore Roethke in his legendary poetry classes.

But I did learn something about history and public responsibility from one of Roethke’s contemporaries, Giovanni Costigan.

Costigan was a tiny, elderly titan of learning and disciplined thought. People would leave other classes and sit in the aisles and pack the room to the walls if they heard he was lecturing. I watched him bring 300 people to awe and some to tears when he spoke about what fairies and the animist spirit life meant to William Butler Yeats and to the soul of the Irish people.

Costigan also publicly debated Wliiiam F. Buckley for two and a half hours on the ill-advised US foreign policy in Vietnam. The debate was televised and drew more viewers than that nights Sonics game. It was like watching Muhammad Ali stick and move while Joe Frazier just bullied and bashed.

Where have such mighty teachers gone? Where are our lions?

P.S. I do know one. Elizabeth Warren. She went to the Senate to take on the corruption head on. I hope she runs for President.

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