* Note that the playback function may entail lengthy delays where the writer cogitated. We do try to jump to the point at which composing began, but there is the occasional writer who types a letter and then stops for five minutes. Hang in there.

Robert Pinsky

We asked Robert Pinsky to write on the following:

(FOUND on the floor of a university computer center by Davy Rothbart in Ypsilanti, MI)


I have not graded your test yet, but it is clear that my message to you about receiving the grade you earn has not gotten through. To write, as you do, “Please have mercy on my soul and give me a passing grade, I think I deserve it,” indicated that, as do your numerous pleas for mercy earlier in the course. Grading is about receiving what your coursework indicates you deserve. Nothing else!! I have operated on that principle for about 40 years, and I am not about to change now. So please stop the undignified pleading. I’ll enter the grades for all students in 344 at the same time, and you will receive what you EARN. No more, no less.

Professor Massey

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