December 18, 2014 | ,

Dear University Office of Risk Management (IV)

Photo Credit: “Writing to reach you” by Wim Mulder

Dear University Office of Risk Management (IV)

Thank you for sharing your reservations about my recent letters. I was not going to say anything, but I think you should know that these missives were penned by my undergraduate research assistant, N***. This circumstance should contextualize any irregularity in form or content. I do not wish this fact to become a blot on the otherwise commendable record of N***, barring him or her from future advancement. For this reason, I have elected not to disclose his or her name, or even his or her gender. However, it is impossible to expect an undergraduate—even one with zeal, talent, and pleasing facial features—to communicate at the same level as a professor. I recall well that when serving as an undergraduate research assistant myself, I was not allowed to contribute to my mentor’s writing. Instead, I was transformed into a gofer, conducting endless coffee runs when not tasked with photocopying journal articles or alphabetizing files. For years afterwards, I was unsure about whether I wanted to be part of the academy. It was a game with rules I did not understand. I had hoped to avoid inculcating in N*** comparable feelings of resentment by giving him or her a chance to participate in my professional life. As such, I made N*** responsible for my interoffice correspondence. Please note that since the contributions of N*** have not been appreciated, I have arranged to have him or her replaced. Nevertheless, I hope you will make allowance for the intention behind the letters, looking beyond any surface imperfections to seize upon important campus safety matters identified within them. Your doing so will not only be appreciated by students like N*** but also ensure continued progress on my work: a book-length study on monstrosity, which, Derrida posits, permits us to understand conventions by transgressing them.

Yours truly,

Dr. Noel Sloboda
Researcher in the Humanities

This piece is part of a chapbook, Risk Management Studies, from Kattywompus Press

Noel Sloboda’s work has recently appeared in Bayou, Fourteen Hills, PANK, and Salamander. He is the author of the poetry collections Shell Games (sunnyoutside, 2008) and Our Rarer Monsters (sunnyoutside, 2013) as well as several chapbooks. Sloboda has also published a book about Edith Wharton and Gertrude Stein.  

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