San Jose State College, Class of 1966
Legacy of Poetry
Information provided by Bill Burns to Annette Nellen (April 2010)
Bill graduated from San Jose State College in 1966 with a B.A. in English and a minor in Drama. He took verse writing from Nils Peterson in the spring of his last semester and thoroughly enjoyed the class. Bill was awarded second prize in the Phelan Poetry contest that year and his poem, Agamemnon, was published in Reed Magazine in 1966.
In May of 1967 Bill assisted in the printing and publishing of Mobled Muse, a very small poetry anthology which included the works of fourteen poets including three of Nils' poems and a few of his own. It was a very limited edition and was sold on the SJSC campus. Bill worked for a few years with Poets in the Schools, a group that introduced grammar and middle school children to the wonders of writing poetry. From 1969 to 1997 Bill worked for the San Mateo County Office of Education as an alternative education teacher, a coordinator, a director, and finally served as Administrator of Court and Community Schools until his retirement in 1997.
Bill continued working after retirement as a teacher in the county jail for 11 years. As of 2010, he works part-time for Project READ and teaches a poetry course to inmates in the same county jail. He is currently completing a poetry anthology which is the culmination of every class. It will be distributed to each student inmate, staff, and Project READ's benefactors in April 2010.
As of April 2010, Bill is working on a book of poetry.
Not one who tasted agony at Troy
Bus Home from Campbell High 1958
On an early summer afternoon
as if propelled by screams of teens inside
the school bus bolts down Bascom Avenue
pouring out raucous kids at several stops
on two land orchard roads:
Williams, Moorpark, Freestone and Fruitdale.
Kids squirm, baking in the heat of summer sun.
They look out of the windows and see ripened fruit,
smell its sweet scent and scream: "Cherries are ripe!"
At the next stop they flutter out -
ravenous birds of prey descend on unsuspecting trees.
They attack - climbing, grabbing picking, gorging, stuffing
cherry after cherry into mouths that cannot get enough.
Sometimes clutching three and four at a time
they yank, then stuff, lips red, tongues cherry black,
stopping only to spit out pits,
and then resuming their feeding frenzy.
Suddenly, sprinklers attack.
Someone shouts "Go".
Kids drop from trees to grab mud-spattered books
from the soft soil where they were abandoned.
It's a long walk home, but no one notices
as they laugh and jab, scrambling down the dusty roads -
dreaming of summer afternoons
of no more school.
|This page last updated April 29, 2010||
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Last Modified: Feb 22, 2023