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The Student Theme

The adjectives all ganged up on the nouns,
insistent, loud, demanding, inexact,
their Latinate constructions flashing. The pronouns
lost their referents: They were dangling, lacked
the stamina to follow the prepositions' lead
in, on, into, to, toward, for, or from.
They were beset by passive voices and dead
metaphors, conjunctions shouting But! or And!

The active verbs were all routinely modified 
by adverbs, that endlessly and colorlessly ran
into trouble with the participles sitting
on the margins knitting their brows like gerunds
(dangling was their problem, too). The author
was nowhere to be seen; was off somewhere.

—Ronald Wallace

from The Uses of Adversity, 1998
University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA

Copyright 1998 by Ronald Wallace.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Ronald Wallace from The Uses of Adversity. Copyright 1998 by Ronald Wallace. For further permissions information, contact Rights and Permissions Department, University of Pittsburgh Press, Eureka Building / Fifth Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15260,

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Ronald Wallace (1945- ) is the author of eight poetry collections, including For a Limited Time Only (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008). Wallace was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and raised in St. Louis.

Learn more about Ronald Wallace at The Poetry Foundation.