Saturday, March 26, 2016

William Myrl; Letters to No One (44)

Dear No One,
I told Ender that this was either going to be very exciting month, or a very disappointing one. So far, disappointing has proved the champion of that duel. Recall that I entered in all four categories of the PEN prison writing contest back in September. No luck. It was a blow, but I can understand how it happened. There are thousands of entrants, thousands more pieces to cipher and judge. That my crap might be overlooked is not beyond the realm of possibility. I knew going in that my style of poetry (not free verse, but actual verse) is out of the vogue and has been for decades. My drama work was short and humorous, I doubt either quality played well. (Iambic pentameter was not requested) My short story was titled "Mel works for Satan", so we can both guess what went wrong there. I had been holding out serious hope for the nonfiction segment, my essay wasn't long, but it was highly quotable. I'm going to have my brother post my entries on the site (, so you can see what lost compared to what won. I only had a month to prepare my entries, still, expectations were dashed.
More realistic were my expectations of participating in the Washington and Lee course this year. I wrote my application seriously this time. They asked for a paragraph explaining why I wanted to be in the class.Here it is. 

I am the first member of my family not to attend college, the first not to finish high school, and the first to go to prison. These distinctions are not a source of pride, so when an opportunity arises to further my education without cost, to visit, if only in facsimile, a classroom like the ones I could have known, I am compelled to take it. I am grateful and surprised that the Washington and Lee program exists, and hopeful to have a chance to participate. I believe I could make a real contribution to the discourse of the course, as I already maintain a blog about prison life; quotidian concerns, education and mental health issues. (Letters to No One, Also, in May of this year, one of my essays on a related subject will be published in Reed magazine of San Jose University. The nature of freedom and unfreedom is a topic I can't help but be attracted to. Ten pages wouldn't be enough to hold every reason this class appeals to me, but you asked for a paragraph, so this will have to do.

What did the other people write? I am told by the inmates who work in the school that some of the people who did get in have difficulty with basic punctuation and sentence structure. I found out earlier today that I wasn't selected, so excuse any bitterness in my tone, but what criterion was the principal looking for when he made his selections? What is the point of a class if the people who will be best able to take advantage of what is offered are not allowed in? It isn't as if this is a GED class, its an elective college course that gives real credits.
Venting, venting. I've been playing a lot of Magic: the gathering, lately (The cards aren't allowed, we make our own). I can't listen to "This is Me", by Draft King, without feeling better. Damn my emotional robustness! 
William Myrl 

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