Campus News Blog: Texas Poet Laureate Dies, Said SMU “Saved His Life”

November 29, 2009  

Posted by Jaimie Siegle

Jack Elliott Myers was 67 when he died Nov. 23 at his home in Mesquite. Myers taught English at SMU for 34 years and ran the Creative Writing program for seven years. An In Memoriam page for the writer mentions that Myers often said that coming to teach at SMU “saved his life” – a statement so genuine that I’m ashamed it doesn’t apply to me.

As an English major who has practically lived in Dallas Hall the past four years, I feel almost ignorant for never having heard of Professor Myers until this week. And after reading this blog post from a writer at D Magazine, I wish I would have been able to learn from him as I have with some of the wisest scholars I’ve ever met who currently teach in the English department.

Even though Thanksgiving is over, Jack Myers’s love for teaching and writing left an impact on those who sat in his classroom and those who did not; and that is a reason for students to be grateful for their education on the Hilltop.

Below is Myers’s poem “Doing and Being: A Story About the Buddha” from his 1999 anthology OneOnOne:

For a hundred thousand eons, or kalpas,
before his birth, the Buddha practiced
patience and compassion, steadfastness and calm.

Each kalpa was one hundred thousand years long,
yet the Buddha secretly smiled, sitting at his practice
which was said to be twice the size of Mt. Everest.

It is said his progress was like that of the raven
who once every hundred years appeared
with a silk scarf in its beak
which it dragged lightly over the mountain top
and thus gradually wore the mountain down.

It was in this way that the Buddha became Buddha

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