When Les Misérables first lumbered onto the Broadway stage in 1987, my daughter had not yet been born, but its theatrical life was so robust that it was still running strong in the 1990s when she achieved sentiency. As soon as she did, she glommed onto it with the fervor only a pre-adolescent can have for things she loves. The songs were played endlessly in the house and in the car, and all manner of professional and amateur productions were attended. She would burst at unexpected moments into renditions of “Master of the House,” and “ Do You Hear the People Sing?” — the first with a perfect cockney accent imitated from the CD.

I had plowed through Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Misérables, in college — impressed by the panache with which Hugo concocted the plot in defiance of logic and common sense. I felt I understood the famous response of… More…

 

I’m submitting my PhD thesis and have to write the acknowledgements page. My supervisor was lousy and disinterested. Is there a poem that will express my disappointmentwithout making the examiners think I’m whiny and complaining?

P.S. my discipline is agricultural economics — Emily G.

When you bring poetry into another discipline, the results can be pretty unpredictable, and in your case I think you should be especially thoughtful and deliberate. I don’t know much about agricultural economics, but I think I found a poem for you (if it’s not appropriate, let me direct you to two books — Bill Knott’s The Unsubscriber and Jefferson Carter’s Sentimental Blue — that contain concise, witty, somewhat aphoristic poems that can be used as subtle little jabs to your supervisor). But the poem I suggest for you first is a funny… More…