To My Japanese Students, Going Home

I confess I sketch your slant dark eyes,
invariable hair, and sukiyaki names—
your five-to-a-Subaru frames—
as a blur of enigma, tinct with bows.

But some of you are outlines sharp as sons:
Ohira with your kamikazi eyes and green Sahara dreams,
Koji at the table in your undertaker's suit
and golden smile, Sato who told me at last that
my aging paper sens, blue with flowers and birds
and pressed with the weight of years,
are values now so small that no one spends them.

In every one of you I see those two
who once lined pages, penning perfect hands,
sending me bookmarks, bills, neat views of themselves
in Suizenji Park, seriously untouched by what my uncles
had dropped on all their cross-hatched, neat-roofed houses.
Sadaji, Yasuko, still I hope you are well.
I send you both from here in the West
a Thousand Cranes, folded of these light lines,
to float on paper wings in the face of time.

From Somewhere on the Interstate (Memphis: Ion Books, 1987), 17.  Rpt. from Windmills 12(1983): 21.
Copyright © Roy Neil Graves. All rights reserved.


 How an Evening School Teacher Passes His Hour


 This once, while they are writing, I cruise their town
 in the State car, adding a few guilty miles.
 I stop at their Wal-mart and, knowing the archetype,
 have no trouble finding my way to the pens.
 I circle the square, and stop at a Coleman’s for coffee.
 I find a fruit stand and swap small change
 for two big apples, yellow enough to say October.
 Eating one, saving the other for her,
 all the while guessing at what my composers
 are setting down in their silent confessionals,
 I pen this separate, private note to share
 in the enforced grief of things that must be put down,
 filling a napkin that soaks up words like a blotter.
 Later I will collect the papers and drive again.

Rpt. from The Educational Catalyst 9.2 (Fall 1979): 71.All rights reserved.

       Roy Neil Graves
  6. Teaching:

At UT-Martin, 1969-2018…


  • Developmental English (English 080-090)
  • Composition (English 111-112)
  • British Literary Tradition (English 250-251)
  • American Literary Tradition (English 260-261)
  • World Literature (English 270-271)
  • Advanced Composition (English 305/505)
  • Poetry Workshop (English 315/515)
  • Topics in American Literature before 1900: American Renaissance (English 340/540)
  • Black Writers in America (English 345/545)
  • Romantic Prose and Poetry (English 370/570)
  • Modern Poetry (English 385/585)
  • The History of the English Language (English 420/620)
  • The American Novel to Faulkner (English 445/645)
  • Early English Literature (English 460/660)
  • Shakespeare (English 485/685)
  • Seventeenth Century British Literature (English 490/690)
  • Critical Approaches to Literature: Senior Capstone (English 499)

…and The University of Virginia, Roanoke and Lynchburg Centers, 1965-67:

  •    Advanced Grammar
  •    The History of the Novel

Concurrent teaching roles at UTM:

  •   Instructor, Tennessee Governor’s School for the Humanities, summers 1985-96.
  •   Instructor, University Scholars mini-courses in Modern Poetry and American Literature, 1993-94, 1986-87, 1984-85. Mentor for Scholars projects, 1989, 1992.
  •   Instructor, Nihon University Intensive English Program, summers 1981-84.
  •   Lead teacher, first Intensive English Program, summer 1975.

Teaching awards and recognitions:

  •  Nomination at UT Martin (with others) as an Outstanding Educator for 2002-03.
  •  The Cunningham Teacher/Scholar Award, 1995-96.  (See “Graves Named Winner of Teacher/Scholar Award.”  The Weakley County Press, 14 Aug. 1997, 12.)
  •  Nomination at UT Martin (with others) for NAA Outstanding Teacher Award, 1995.

Back to Roy Neil Graves’ home page