With the arrival of Fall semester, students are beginning to settle in and faculty are becoming more comfortable in their classrooms. There is perhaps no teacher less comfortable in the college classroom than tenured poetry professor Dr. Raymond Baldpelt, who was raised by raccoons after being left in the Suwannee River State Park. At the age of 15 he entered the public school system after a bloody feud with the clan that reared him.
“Ray is a captivating creature. His first year here, he built a nest in my classroom out of Gatorade bottles and magnolia branches that I’ve kept to this day. He’s taught me so much about humanity’s immortal connection to nature,” said colleague Virginia Landsbury while grading a poem written on a DVD copy of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. “In his lectures, Dr. Baldpelt has a rustic charm and rabid enthusiasm for his work. He tells students in the first week that the best time to write is just before the sun rises or right after it sets. He believes this is when the creative mind is most active. It’s also when Dunkin Donuts throws all the old bread away.”
“The first assignment I give to each new class is to hunt for dinner and treasure in dumpsters around campus. How are you supposed to write great poetry if you’ve never eaten a little puck of cigarette butts out of a dumpster? We get that out of the way immediately,” said Dr. Baldpelt. When asked about his childhood, Baldpelt’s eyes glossed over and he paused. “I encourage students to be creative, but if any of them write a poem I believe is threatening my position in the classroom I won’t hesitate to bite them,” he said finally. “I believe great poetry describes the tastiest garbage, scariest dogs and the everlasting relationship with neighbors who leave out cat food. I hate air conditioning and I don’t have a cell phone. Technology is turning everyone into sheep and I’ve eaten a sheep. Sheep get eaten. By me.”
Dr. Baldpelt released a book of poems in April titled My Toes Are Too Big. In this collection, he wrestles with themes like not wearing shoes anywhere and your first wife leaving you for someone who owns forks. You can attend his monthly readings at The Warehouse for a suggested donation of half a bagel.