Finding then reading your email late last night brought me such an immense pleasure. It must be nearly impossible for you to remember me after all this time. In fact, it's been twenty eight years since I sat in the back of your class. As my teacher, I must let you know how you influenced at least this one student of yours.
I was a City Planning major at USL. American Literature was a required course and I approached the prospect with predictable trepidation. English was not in fact my second language but my third after Arabic and French. I was a twenty-year-old Syrian student who came from a small city by the sea and who dreamed of going to college in America. I was also an ordinary reader of modern Arabic poetry and translated mystery novels when I took your class. Within weeks, and thanks to you, I was transported to an exquisite world of words, one which I never willed to leave since. I had my true revelation when you introduced us to "The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot. This poem changed me forever and through the years I must have read it hundreds of times. It evokes the same sense of awe and humanity in me today as it did back then.
Halfway through the course, with straight A's in quizzes and the midterm you announced that: "Abufares is exempted from taking the final exam with a well deserved A." I was the only foreign student in that room and you had no idea what your recognition had done to my self-confidence back then.
I later pursued my Master's degree, became a Graduate Teaching Assistant in my department and enrolled in a Writing course of yours. I chose to translate four poems by Nizar Qabbani (1923 -1998), the most influential Syrian poet of the 20th century, into English. In your notes on the side of one of my papers, you scribbled something like "read, read, read..." and I have not stopped reading till today. Then once, during a short discussion we had after class about "imagism", you asked me to attempt to write a few short poems. I remember only one as I have lost all of my papers and bits of my memory with the torturous passage of time.
To My so-called Aunt Dolly
twenty-two years separate us
but between your lips and mine
when we kiss
years are crushed
and they die
Almost three decades later and after the few hundreds of "English" books I have read, "... after the cups, the marmalade, the tea" and when I was finally able to momentarily free myself from the burdens of labor and every day's obligations I started my blog. In reply to your question about my writing career I still do not have one but that could change one day. I waded through my first words on this blog and continue to derive delightful fancy from my interaction with readers. A few months ago I took my first plunge into fiction as a co-writer of an online tale by the name of Sea Side with Mariyah, a most inspirational woman and a beautiful writer beyond my meager words. I would be thrilled if my English professor of old chooses to take a look at our story, not for the sake of vanity but rather as a token of appreciation on my part for what you have taught and instilled in me.
Thank you Professor for writing to me. I am honored.