Poems on Academia by Felicia Nimue Ackerman

The following is a guest post*  of poems, mostly about academia, by Felicia Nimue Ackerman, professor of philosophy at Brown University. 

The poems were originally published in other venues (credits at the bottom of the post).


[Alma Thomas, “Stars and Their Display”]

Big Family

When my dean said, “We’re all a big family,”
I figured that it would ring true,
If my relatives paid me a salary
And gave me a yearly review.


Professor Superstar

He values his peers, but he snubs lesser scholars
As if they could scarcely be seen.
He thinks that this shows that his standards are lofty.
It really just shows that he’s mean.


How Doth Professor Superstar

How doth Professor Superstar
Pursue his shining quest.
His glory awes us from afar.
He dwells atop the crest.

How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly wields his clout,
To welcome all his cronies in
And keep outsiders out.

Bound for Tenure

He hardly could be a more suitable fit
If we had constructed him out of a kit.
He knows whom to take note of and whom to ignore.
He’s been on this trajectory since he was four.

A Little List

Apt to harm us, prone to grump,
That’s my view of Donald Trump.
Has he virtues that I’ve missed?
Here’s a comprehensive list:


“A Big Family”: a slightly different version first appeared in The Providence Journal
“Professor Superstar”: first appeared in The Providence Journal
“How Doth Professor Superstar”: first appeared in The Providence Journal
“Bound for Tenure”: first appeared as a letter to the editor on The Chronicle Of Higher Education website
“A Little List”: first appeared in Options

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