Things Just Got Weir-d
John Weir, the man who taught Bernice’s own John Rice to speak with his hands, will Helen Keller some fine fiction this Saturday at the Oh, Bernice! reading.
A highly fictional fiction writer himself, John declined to give a bio. This, of course, means I’m just going to make one up.
Professor Weir grew up in New Jersey with horses, also parents. He was able to escape The Garden State disguised as a hollow tree to come to New York City, disguised as a street lamp.
He’s been a Columbia student, an AIDS activist, novelist, all of which have have landed him squarely in the Queens College MFA program, where he sits in his office full of books, verbally awash in a hand gesture sign language some students are still looking to define. He’s lived. He’s loved. He avoids answering email.
Or maybe not.
I once heard Philip Levine say of John Berryman (this sentence is too pretentious, already) that he was a professor who could get away with anything because he said it as joke. John Weir is just that kind of professor. The signature lilt, the chopping hand gestures, are the gift wrapping on his thoughts.
As he once told me himself, “Humor is my only pedagogical tool. If they aren’t laughing, what else do I have?”
Surely he does have us laughing, but it’s because your opening sentence is terrible and your story starts on page five, of a seven page story. (I can only guess what he’ll have to say about this poorly written paragraph.)
So give it up for the proser who reads poetry, and complains about sentences by Henry James. We are all a little weirder for knowing him.
- John Rice