Sunday

PHIL HEY — English professor, refused induction to the draft in 1967 — and he's still here

Phil Hey



He refused his induction into the draft in the 1967, when he was teaching at Wisconsin State University, saying, in effect, if they want me, they can come get me – I believe I can serve the country better through teaching than in a uniform.

He is still teaching.





Meditation in time of war
[for MacCanon Brown]

by Phil Hey


August. Lying sleepless under the Dog Star,
I gaze into a sky the moon has left blank
but for a few stars no one dare steer by. This,
this is what it always comes to: a darkness
without answer, the image burned on the eye
of men who will wash the blood from their hands
with more blood. Tonight the news has come in
warm and thick as what little breeze stirs,
and with no more meaning: it had to happen
this way. The forces are in position. It's a question of. . .
What? What is it a question of? Let them return to us
with the blood still on their hands and then tell it all again.
Nightlong, it will never change: we shall cry for gasoline
and be beyond recompense for our dead children. We shall weep
for our foolishness, and at daybreak be foolish as before.
And of all such tears, such deaths, what is not in vain?
How shall anyone hear me say these words
to the maddeningly patient sky, pray for peace,
and let no one anywhere die for me ? Sometimes, still,
what little heart is left, is what was shared; given away,
returning unbidden; beyond price; transformed of fire, and clean.
This once again, so may it be with me, and with you.



The New American
Dream Interview



PHIL HEY, 66, lives in Sioux City, Iowa.

He is a published writer and poet, having his work appear in numerous magazines and anthologies.

He is the senior member of the English department chairman at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, and has been teaching at Briar Cliff since 1969.

He refused his induction into the draft in the 1967, when he was teaching at Wisconsin State University, saying, in effect, if they want me, they can come get me – I believe I can serve the country better though teaching than in a uniform.

He is still teaching.

Phil lives with his wife, Terry, on thirty-eight hilly acres with prairie grass, and weather imported from the Dakotas.


__________

The New American Dream Trivia Question:

To win a something, be the second singer in Secaucus
to correctly answer the following.

Phil Hey's favorite poet is:

a. Dylan Thomas
b. Phil Hey
c. Nobody you've ever heard of
d. Robert Frost
e.
Robert Bly
f. Walt Whitman
g
. Bob Dylan
h.
Robert Zimmerman

__________



NAD: Phil, hello, welcome.

You've stayed in one place, your whole career — right?

Except for the first two years at Wisconsin State, yes.



PHIL HEY:

Why? I left there because it was a model state machine, with no values.

By contrast, Briar Cliff is a Franciscan place, where values like peace matter a great deal.

What is so great about what you are doing?

PHIL HEY:

The chance to help people succeed in ways that don’t injure the earth or other people is good, as is the chance to witness what I believe – not to indoctrinate, but to add to the conversation.




The chance to help people succeed in ways that don’t injure the earth or other people is good, as is the chance to witness what I believe – not to indoctrinate, but to add to the conversation.




NAD: Do you find hope in Obama?


PHIL HEY:

Yes, sometimes he reminds me of Bobby Kennedy, with the hope that we can get the government to help people, especially the ones who need it the most. I think we should all be glad for the more visible diversity at the top.

And of course, almost anyone would be a relief after GW Bush.


NAD: Did you find hope in Clinton?

PHIL HEY:
Yes, particularly for the economy, but for other things too. I think history will be kind to him.

NAD: Robert Gates?

PHIL HEY:
We’ll see. His history in the office could be valuable in turning us away from war.

• Only to echo Jefferson: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” I will never forego my skepticism of the government or its leaders.




NAD: Would you like to choose one of these to answer, elaborate on?

I don't ask this to make fun. I ask because I really seek the answers.

- Are UFOs real?

I think it makes little difference. I don’t believe in “Chariots of the Gods.”

- Did we land on the moon in 1968?

I believe so, but the only real difference it made was in the forced miniaturization of electronics, which gave us computers.

- Did Bush knock down the towers?

It’s not hard to think so.

- Was Paul Wellstone's death an accident?

I don’t have any idea.

- Is Bigfoot real?

Yes, I think so.

- Is there a God?

Only if evolution is an act of his revelation (I am sure there is evolution).


... What makes you think that?

I try to reason from evidence.



NAD: I'll assume that you are re-born by your students each day, by their intelligence, their wit, their hope, their spirit — that it is great to see their faces each day and feel the warm glow of hope from their bright eyes.

PHIL HEY:

Not true, not every day anyway.

What are they so excited about?

PHIL HEY:

Often I think they’re excited about being for a time the most sheltered, “free,” wealthy young adults in the world.

Occasionally I see a spark in a few eyes that show me an idea has caught fire, but it’s rarely if ever a universal experience.

But you gotta love ‘em and hold out hope that they will all catch fire.



NAD: Please tell us more about yourself, the things you have done, what you would like to do, what you did today.

PHIL HEY:

I suspect that most of it would be pretty boring.

That said, I like to read, write, give readings, play the flugelhorn, cook, and do carpentry. Not all at once, though sometimes it seems that way.



NAD: You are an English professor, a teacher of writing.

Do you ever feel like that is similar to being an instructor of how to shoe a horse, a dying art, a dying passion, skill?

Or not.

Then tell us why you are hopeful and that people still do read, write, all that. Convince us that there is a reason to write.

PHIL HEY:

I think that no art done well is dying (my wife has three horses that need shoes, and a good farrier is tremendously valuable, as well a good role model.)

Writing remains ESSENTIAL.



Can you imagine an anthology of cell phone calls?



Can you imagine an anthology of cell phone calls?

Neither can I.

Writing is a fine way to compose one’s ideas, revise them and save them, and talk to later generations; we wouldn’t have a civilization without it.

E.M.Forster: “How do I know what I mean until I see what I say?”




Taking the age at its worth

by Phil Hey


Great rumblings, tank battalions in the mind
as on the earth, a man lifts up his voice
and a million men are called away to grief

and what to show at year's or decade's end
but incoherent speech, incessant noise
and the sudden wringings of a handkerchief?


Trivia Question Answer:
Phil Hey's favorite poet is:
David Allen Evans, poet laureate of South Dakota.


[First published Feb. 2, 2009]

1 comment:

poolagirl said...

I studied under Phil Hey in the early 1970's. He was an inspiration then and I continue to carry him in my heart to this day. I am eternally grateful to him for teaching me to believe in myself.

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