The last lecture, almost

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April 21, 2009

1:09 AM

_Click here to see a slide show about the Last Lecture._

“What’s the difference between last lecture and what we always do in class?” English Professor Thomas Heacox asked in this year’s Last Lecture.

Heacox, who came to the College in 1970, gave the Last Lecture to students last night in the Great Hall of the Wren Building.

“Last is an alarming word, though, as is lecture. Think of the association of last: last meal, last wish, last call, among others. All and all there is not much comfort about last things,” he said.

The Last Lecture, sponsored by the Bishop James Madison Society, occurs at the end of each semester to honor one retiring faculty member.

Heacox will not be retiring entirely from academic life, however, as he will teach here part time for the next five years. Heacox talked about the consequences that come along with technically retiring.

Out of his near 40 years at the college, Heacox said he does not have one single best memory, but rather a serious of good experiences.

“I will probably miss my eccentric office the most, though. It will disappear after me, as they’re currently renovating Tucker. I was the first and last person to occupy it. It’s in the basement and sort of like a cave, with strange pipes running through it. I think it is this place that I will miss more than any individual person.”

Heacox spent the majority of his lecture reading and describing his favorite poems

“Poetry has always been one of my things, and I want to convey its high purposefulness to you all. So many poems are private and self-absorbed. But it’s my goal to pass along best of poetry,” he said.

After instructing the audience to read several works together out loud, Heacox presented one of his own poems titled “Study.”

“Everyone is a difficult to read text, in my mind,” Heacox said. “Studying literature is better than studying—not to offend anyone—business. Poetry so often asks, what’s going on? So many things are going on in poet’s head that don’t go on paper. And in these poems, we’re trying to figure out what the hell is going on.”

Mel Sparrow ’11, a student of Heacox’s British literature class, said she thoroughly enjoyed the lecture.

“He seemed almost a little nervous at the beginning, but he was quite endearing. It’s his sense of humor that’s so great,” Sparrow said. “He was a little sillier with the poetry, tonight. I really enjoyed him reading his own work, though, since I’ve never heard that before and he doesn’t read them to his classes.”

Heacox said he will continue writing his own poetry indefinitely.

“I always have, and I just don’t see how it could stop now,” Heacox said.

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