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Connecticut Teacher Forced to Resign After Teaching Allen Ginsberg

By Harriet Staff


Seriously? Seriously. South Windsor Connecticut School District recently forced longtime, award-winning teacher, David Olio, to resign after discussing Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Please Master” with students. Ginsberg’s poem ruminates on dominance and submission; a student brought the poem to class with questions about its content. Daily Beast tells the whole darn story:

It was the kind of moment teachers covet. An Advanced Placement English class focusing on poetry, and a student brings in a poem that caught his eye, hoping to discuss in the waning moments of the period how the poet uses language in his work.

The teacher, David Olio, a 19-year veteran of the South Windsor School District and winner of Connecticut’s highest award for teaching excellence, didn’t know the poem in question, but he took a look and walked the students through it in the remaining time.

The poem the student discovered and brought in was “Please Master,” an extremely graphic account of a homosexual encounter published by Allen Ginsberg in 1968 that begins: “Please master can I touch your cheek / please master can I kneel at your feet / please master can I loosen your blue pants.”

Clearly, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” this wasn’t. But the students were 17- and 18-year-olds, some of whom were taking the AP course in conjunction with the University of Connecticut and receiving college credit.

One day after the class, Olio was placed on indefinite, unpaid leave by the district. Seventy-two hours later, the district began termination proceedings against him. Three weeks after that, he agreed to resign. […]

Read all the gory details at Daily Beast.

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Posted in Poetry News on Monday, June 1st, 2015 by Harriet Staff.