The conception of “Alma Mater” came to me randomly as I was a passenger in a vehicle on a Saturday, like today. What inspired it? I can’t recall. But I knew that there were too many stories to be told, too many places to chronicle, and too many bridges to implode this gap. I knew that there was so much to learn, say, and recite about what takes place in this country between people we’ve never met or seen, yet share a special bond with as co-citizens of this place we call America…and even more so as co-citizens of the same species domain. And the fact that these events were taking place in the primes of lives made it so much more exciting for me to delve into.
I’m from Chicago and attended a university in the state of Illinois. So I knew that this series had to begin with the Midwest and with what I was most familiar with. And what you are about to read is the first poem of the Alma Mater series.
The University of Chicago is holding its convocation today. Folk in the prime of their life are ready to combat the world with what they have grasped from the city of which many of the inhabitants believe is Second to none. Today, I commemorate the beginning of the Alma Mater series by synchronizing the celebration of the beginning of Alma Mater with the commencement of what awaits those who are leaving theirs. This is also the commencement of an open request to anyone within the sight of my words to assist in the selection of what will my proudest work to date: The Best of Alma Mater.
On March 3, 2018, I will release The Best of Alma Mater, and I will need some help in selecting the crème de la crème. The best way you can assist in doing so would be to purchase each of the four Alma Mater volumes – Midwest, Northeast, West, and South, each docked at $0.99 and free for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers. Because the more pieces from the series you read, the more qualified you are to state whether or not a piece belongs in the “Best of.”
As it is now, the list sits at roughly 120 poems that will appear in the “Best of.” Ideally, I would like to cut it down to 100. So feel free to troll, either in the comments or, preferably, through my contact link, to let me know why a piece should be left out….or if you think a piece is a must-add, those comments are especially welcome.
This first piece is about the University of Chicago. It was the very first piece I wrote and, appropriately, it’s the first piece published in the series. It’s the most elite institution, ranking-wise, in the Midwest, and it is a school that is linked to the city itself, both in name and in essence. This is the opening salvo of the Alma Mater series in a city much in need of peace, yet which brought it to many. And this is the first round discharged of what will be a series of pieces released here on WordPress from the Alma Mater series that asks for your assistance in helping select the best of the best.
In this piece, I wanted a tone that matched the scholarly and austere spirit of the institution, while conveying the pride of the city it represents. It is a university that dons the namesake of the city, and much of the theme of this piece is delivered with this truth firmly in mind. I wanted a straightforward piece that succinctly let it be known who is here doing what….and, most pronounced: where.
Without further ado, this is the first of the over 100 nominees that will be submitted for your approval and the first piece released within the series. I present to you, The University of Chicago:
Inquiring minds want to know:
What is behind this city of wind, towers, and freight?
This freeway of sweat. The Ivy Terrace above Make.
Then the question shifts to who are behind it?
Is it the Michael Jordans? Champions who have defied time and gravity to unceasingly expand the earth with their flight? Is it weavers of words? Entertainers and messengers like Cooke, Kelly, West, and Winfrey? Is it pizza makers? The butchers and architects?
Is it Gangsters like Al Capone?
Or is it Maroons like Eliot Ness?
Maroons inside Gordon Center research, debate,
then prepare to create—
Just as knowledge grows more and more,
“So be human life enriched.”
It’s the reward of discovery—strayed from the resources—
That makes the student rich.
As the leading institution of the Midwest,
It is our duty to share our wealth,
Found in this toiled soil of Chicago,
To uplift those we’ve found to help the nation grow.
Each morning they rise from the ashes and disperse into the campus that works. A scavenger hunt for stats, facts, and artifacts—a measure that starts and closes at Cobb Gate. The quadrangle nests the informed and the learned, with questers who leave no gothic stone unturned. They feed at Hutch Commons on pieces and scraps adapting masked knowledge to a
Smart Museum of Art.
They occupy 400,000 square feet of science to reinvent and shape this city’s intellectual gem.
And like the Chi-Press & Elliot Ness—
This Jewel of the Midwest remains untouchable.
Preview and then purchase the newly released Alma Mater Vol. 4 below for only $0.99 or for free with Kindle Unlimited along with the other three volumes. And feel free to comment or email me using the “Contact Author” page on this site to assist in selecting the pieces for the Best of Alma Mater series released March 3, 2018.