Wiliam Yarrow

Profile Updated: September 4, 2019
Residing In Lincolnwood, IL USA
Spouse/Partner Leah K. Yarrow
Homepage https://billyarrow.wordpress.com/
Occupation Professor of English at Joliet Junior College since 1993
Children Children:
Benjamin, born 1979; Aliza, born 1981; Nathan, born 1986.
Grandchildren:
Ruby, More…born 2015. Jonas, born 2016. Oscar, born 2017. Sadie, born 2019. Dean, born 2019.
Comments

"What have you been up to since you graduated?"

Teaching. Grading. Teaching. Grading. Teaching. Degrading.

Update, April 2018:
I'm just finishing my 26th year at Joliet Junior College where I'm still enjoying teaching Shakespeare, Introduction to Film Study, and Creative Writing. I plan to keep teaching until 2023. My fifth full-length collection of poetry, Accelerant, came out from Nixes Mate Books in 2019. Against Prompts came out from Lit Fest Press in 2018, The Vig of Love came out from Glass Lyre Press in 2016, Blasphemer came out from Lit Fest Press in 2015 and Pointed Sentences from BlazeVOX in 2012. Leah and I celebrated our 43nd wedding anniversary last March and are enjoying being grandparents. Three grandkids in Brooklyn and two grandkids in Boston keep us in frequent transit from Chicago to the East Coast.

School Story

STROKE ONE: STROKE TWO: STROKE THREE

On Monday, June 16, 1783, at the age of 74, Samuel Johnson suffered a stroke. Boswell records the event by quoting from Johnson's letters to friends and doctors in the Life of Johnson.

1. It has pleased God, this morning, to deprive me of the powers of speech; and as I do not know but that it may be his further good pleasure to deprive me soon of my senses, I request you will on the receipt of this note, come to me, and act for me, as the exigencies of my case require.

2. I have had, indeed, a very heavy blow; but GOD, who yet spares my life, I humbly hope will spare my understanding, and restore my speech.

3. On Monday, the 16th, I sat for my picture, and walked a considerable way with little inconvenience. In the afternoon and evening I felt myself light and easy, and began to plan schemes of life. Thus I went to bed, and in a short time waked and sat up, as has been long my custom, when I felt a confusion and indistinctness in my head, which lasted, I suppose, about half a minute. I was alarmed, and prayed God, that however he might afflict my body, he would spare my understanding.

4. I perceived that I had suffered a paralytic stroke, and that my speech was taken from me. I had no pain, and so little dejection in this dreadful state, that I wondered at my own apathy, and considered that perhaps death itself, when it should come, would excite less horror than seems now to attend it.

5. Though God stopped my speech, he left me my hand.

6. I then wrote a card to Mr. Allen....In penning this note, I had some difficulty; my hand, I knew not how nor why, made wrong letters.

7. I have so far recovered my vocal powers, as to repeat the Lord's Prayer with no very imperfect articulation. My memory, I hope, yet remains as it was; but such an attack produces solicitude for the safety of every faculty.

On Monday, May 7, 2018, at the age of 67, I had a stroke, which, though it left my speech, vision, and understanding unimpaired, temporarily deprived me of all feeling and motion on the left side of my body. Sitting at my desk, I, like Johnson, "felt a confusion and indistinctness in my head." I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper to jot down what I was experiencing, thinking this might be of use to my doctor, but, like Johnson, I was unable to write distinctly or even to form numerals to note the time of the attack. At that point, I tried to get up out of my chair to find my phone and call for help, but I collapsed and fell on the floor, my left leg unable to support my weight. I felt an increased tingling in my left arm but no feeling at all in my left leg. Like Johnson, I felt no anxiety and "so little dejection in this dreadful state, that I wondered at my own apathy." But for me, it wasn't apathy, but rather curiosity. I felt like the narrator in Poe's "A Descent into the Maelstrom" who saves himself from drowning in a whirlpool by remaining calm and observing with neutral fortitude the chaos swirling (literally) around him.

In the ambulance, I flashed back to the death of a friend two years earlier. She, too, had felt suddenly funny and bowed her head at the seminar table around which a dozen poets sat assembled. She began to moan, "O no! O no! I don't want this to happen." There was terrible fear in her eyes and a terrible writhing of her body accompanied by a frantic shaking of her head. As the paramedics placed her on a stretcher, she called urgently for her purse and her books and her papers, all of which were thrown wantonly on her legs. Alas, she didn't survive. She lapsed into a coma on the way to the hospital and died a few days later. But had she survived, the doctors told me, she wouldn't have been the same, wouldn't have been the person I knew, the person her family and closest friends knew. In an instant, that person had disappeared forever.

In an instant, we die. In an instant, we survive. In an instant, we change. For what do we pray? Not to change. Not to die. Not to survive. That is, we pray we don't survive our spouse. We pray we don't survive our kids. We pray we don't survive our friends. We pray we don't survive our work. And sometimes, we don't.

The cemetery moon half lights
these dead, the stones, the pond, the paths,
the half-bouquets and silent weeps
one master shadow over all.

The graveyard wind among the webs weaves
and gusts and rushes the clouds; crickets
lift their wings; the dust raises its head.
In a stroke, everything is set in
motion. The rain falls with fury on
the dust, falls indifferent from the moon.

Wet fingers move through hollow soil.
The rotting people of the earth.
The velvet stench of death relents.
The sounds of light begin to swell.

(This poem appeared in RHINO 2019)

Wiliam's Latest Interactions

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Sep 04, 2019 at 11:59 PM
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Bill Yarrow reading at Heirloom Books in Chicago on April 28, 2018. Gregory Curry hosts.
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Wiliam Yarrow added a video to gallery.
Apr 28, 2018 at 2:12 PM
Bill Yarrow reading at Sunday Salon at Jimmy's No. 43 in New York City on April 19, 2015.
Wiliam Yarrow added a video to gallery.
Apr 28, 2018 at 2:09 PM
Bill Yarrow reading at Waterbean Coffee in Huntersville, North Carolina on July 26, 2017. Hosted by Jonathan Kevin Rice.
Wiliam Yarrow added a video to gallery.
Apr 28, 2018 at 2:09 PM
Bill Yarrow reading from "Blasphemer," "The Vig of Love," and "Pointed Sentences" at Whittier College on October 10, 2017. Hosted by Tony Barnstone.
Wiliam Yarrow added a video to gallery.
Apr 28, 2018 at 2:09 PM
Bill Yarrow reading at San Diego State University on October 11, 2017 as part of the Hugh C. Hyde Living Writers Series, hosted by Meagan Marshall. Poems from Pointed Sentences (2012), Blasphemer (2015), and The Vig of Love (2016). 34 minutes.
Wiliam Yarrow has a birthday today.
Mar 18, 2018 at 4:33 AM
Wiliam Yarrow has a birthday today.
Mar 18, 2017 at 4:33 AM
Wiliam Yarrow changed profile picture.
Nov 29, 2015 at 12:20 PM
Wiliam Yarrow has a birthday today.
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Posted: Dec 17, 2013 at 1:32 AM
1979
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Posted: Sep 04, 2019 at 11:57 PM

Bill Yarrow reading at Heirloom Books in Chicago on April 28, 2018.

Bill Yarrow reading at Heirloom Books in Chicago on April 28, 2018. Gregory Curry hosts.
Posted: Apr 28, 2018 at 2:09 PM

Bill Yarrow reading at San Diego State University on October 11, 2017

Bill Yarrow reading at San Diego State University on October 11, 2017 as part of the Hugh C. Hyde Living Writers Series, hosted by Meagan Marshall. Poems from Pointed Sentences (2012), Blasphemer (2015), and The Vig of Love (2016). 34 minutes.
Posted: Apr 28, 2018 at 2:09 PM

Bill Yarrow reading at Whittier College on October 10, 2017

Bill Yarrow reading from "Blasphemer," "The Vig of Love," and "Pointed Sentences" at Whittier College on October 10, 2017. Hosted by Tony Barnstone.
Posted: Apr 28, 2018 at 2:09 PM

Bill Yarrow reading at Waterbean Coffee in Huntersville, North Carolina on July 26, 2017

Bill Yarrow reading at Waterbean Coffee in Huntersville, North Carolina on July 26, 2017. Hosted by Jonathan Kevin Rice.
Posted: Apr 28, 2018 at 2:12 PM

Bill Yarrow reading at Sunday Salon at Jimmy's No. 43 in New York City on April 19, 2015

Bill Yarrow reading at Sunday Salon at Jimmy's No. 43 in New York City on April 19, 2015.