So Got Schooled


in the tower, on the field

  • Memoir: ISBN 978-1-77171-247-7; 150 pages; $24.95
    Available for order from Ekstasis Editions.

Stephen Bett is a widely and internationally published Canadian poet with eighteen books in print. In his first book of (non-fiction) prose, So Got Schooled: in the tower, on the field, we find three memoirs, from the hilarious tell-all account of managing a senior men’s soccer team where players more often than not seem to be smacking each other about in the kindergarten sandbox, to the last-ditch stand of a ‘terribly’ British-style boys’ school in the far west Canadian ‘colonies’ of the early 1960s, to the feudalism of 1970s grad school under supervision of the brilliant, but also petulant, Robin Blaser, before the advent of student grievance rights.


“What a nightmare it must have been!… The Ph.D program and the profs responsible for it (at least in the initial decade)… was more like a cult. And of course cults work for the devotees… Unmarked papers, absence of consultation, little contact except gossip sessions, and no avenues of appeal whatsoever… Blaser: as I recall, ‘76-‘78 was one of the most difficult periods in his life personally… I’m not sure how interested Blaser was in teaching, or how good he was at it, though admittedly the performance part could be spectacular. He was clearly not interested in or good at paperwork… I think he was primarily a poet (and intellectually has to be judged mainly as such), who happened into a teaching job the way many writers did at the time… Again, of course, it was a royal ‘court’ situation that worked well for the ‘courtiers’-in-training, but not for people not in on the court ‘code.’

—Stan Persky

“This essay has a great, warm, inviting voice, and a sly wit (of course). It’s a surprisingly engaging story of the academic shadow… It has the feel of an oft-told story, and the almost mythic quality such stories carry. Very well organised in terms of the ordering, the inner titles; this works as an “argument,” a “document,” and a story—creative nonfiction… [Stephen Bett] clearly has the essayist’s gift. This should convince us that poets make the best essayists.

—Michael Kenyon