Tag Archives: Odyssey

Searching for the Young Soul Rebels

Photograph by Jose Padua
After writing an essay in my freshman English lit class
in which I discussed James Joyce’s Ulysses as the next
logical step for narrative after Ford Maddox Ford’s
The Good Soldier, my professor, who was also the head
of the English department, had me speak to him
after class not to congratulate me on an interesting
premise or encourage me regarding a bold though perhaps
failed attempt to create a coherent picture of the development
of the English novel, but rather to accuse me of plagiarism.
It wasn’t that he’d heard this idea before
from some upperclassman or had read about it
in some renowned scholar’s critical appraisal of Joyce
but because he thought it was unlikely that
a freshman like me would have already read
Ulysses. I read it on my own in high school,
I explained, and the idea to compare Ford Maddox Ford
to Joyce was mine, I pleaded, and what, I asked
was so unusual about a freshman having read books
on his own? I had to summarize Ulysses on the spot,
explain the parallels to the Odyssey, define interior monologue,
stream-of-consciousness, and the glory of Molly Bloom’s
soliloquy before he finally showed he believed
this idea, whether brilliant or half-baked or half-assed,
was mine with a reluctant, smirking curl of his lower lip.
And I walked away, having learned that I had no future
with the academy, that I’d never be sheltered by the ivied
halls of learning, and that maybe I’d better just start
watching my back, refining my steps, and reading between the lines
before speaking to anyone in charge.

-Jose Padua

This poem first appeared in Vox Populi. Photograph by Jose Padua