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Kenneth Knoespel

Kenneth Knoespel

K.J. Knoespel is McEver Professor of Engineering and the Liberal Arts at Georgia Tech. His work examines issues of institutions facing and embracing technological change, science and visualization. Knoespel received his PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago and his BA in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin. In 2012, he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Umeå in Sweden. He participated in founding Poetry@Tech and writes poetry.

The Legacy of Thomas Lux

The phone rang and it was Henry Bourne, Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and former Tech VP and Interim President. He and Margaret wanted to meet. They had decided to endow a Chair in Poetry. I remember his voice and the smiling wink in his eye, "The last thing this institution needs is another endowed professorship in Electrical Engineering. What Tech needs is a Chair in Poetry!" Months later at Tom's inaugural reading, I walked over to the auditorium with Henry and Margaret. Henry was so proud that Tom was here. He told about Robert Frost reading at MIT to assembled students and faculty; said it was one of the most intense memories he had of MIT. Now, he said, this could also happen at Georgia Tech.

Tom celebrated Henry and all Georgia Tech beyond anything that had been imagined. Since Tom came to Tech in 2002, more than 14,000 people have attended readings sponsored by Poetry@Tech. Tom often introduced the multiple visiting poets by talking about how easy it was to think of Poetry@Tech as an oxymoron. Pointing his fingers into the air and stopping staccato-like to hit each word, Tom would say that poets build poems, like engineers build bridges with hard work both! Each reading showed that Poetry@Tech was hardly an oxymoron. Each reading witnessed what Tom was nurturing and how it would grow given the strength of heart he gave to us all.

Render, Render

  Boil it down: feet, skin, gristle,
  bones, vertebrae, heart muscle, boil
  it down, skim, and boil
  again, dreams, history, add them and boil
  again, boil and skim
  in closed cauldrons, boil your horse, his hooves,
  the runned-over dog you loved, the girl
  by the pencil sharpener
  who looked at you, looked away,
  boil that for hours, render it
  down, take more from the top as more settles to the bottom,
  the heavier, the denser, throw in ache
  and sperm, and a bead
  of sweat that slid from your armpit to your waist
  as you sat stiff-backed before a test, turn up
  the fire, boil and skim, boil
  some more, add a fever
  and the virus that blinded an eye, now's the time
  to add guilt and fear, throw
  logs on the fire, coal, gasoline, throw
  two goldfish in the pot (their swim bladders
  used for "clearing"), boil and boil, render
  it down and distill,
  concentrate
  that for which there is no
  other use at all, boil it down, down,
  then stir it with rosewater, that
  which is now one dense, fatty, scented red essence
  which you smear on your lips
  and go forth
  to plant as many kisses upon the world
  as the world can bear!




from The Cradle Place, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004

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