This is part of a recent e-mail to me from a PhD who is currently working as an adjunct in my department:
'This year I applied for 15 tenure-track positions in my field, of which over half were later canceled due to the present economic “crisis.” Not counting the hours I spent preparing application materials, I spent $150 on printing and postage—about 30% of one of my bi-weekly paychecks. I have also pursued work outside of academe, only to discover that my PhD is a greater liability than an asset. I am regarded with open skepticism and suspicion by prospective employers; I’ve been told time and again that I’m “overqualified,” a “flight risk.” I have even had interviews with area businesses canceled when they learned of my academic background. I am competing for these jobs against others who have professional degrees from an increasing number of smartly marketed trade schools and community colleges, and bachelor’s degrees from any one of several area universities. Simply put, there are more qualified, degree-holding people than our regional economy can afford to absorb, and having a PhD has left me way behind the competition. Short of flipping Whoppers or waving to Walmart shoppers, I have no choice but to continue in what I’m doing to earn a living. The university should be ashamed—mortified—to have so many of its teachers living at or below poverty level. It’s ironic that as KU undergraduate enrollment goes up year after year, my job prospects continue to go down. To be honest, I’ve all but given up on publishing and scraping together funds to attend big conferences. What’s the point? I’m going to “perish” anyway. Besides, I’ve got papers to grade, papers to grade, and more papers to grade.'
At the New Orleans Poetry Festival, April, 2017 - Eileen Tabios, Tim Dyke, Lo Mei Wa and myself before the Tinfish Press reading.
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