On Frank Bidart, The IOP, Nature, and Gratitude

I was reading the new Poets & Writers issue yesterday, and I came across this quote by the poet Frank Bidart (if you don’t know him, he’s been suggested as a future Poet Laureate by many critics and readers):

“We live in this awkward culture that tells people that they have to have a job, have money to buy things, but that the job does not have to be connected to one’s soul, one’s inner life or spirit or sense of self-worth.  On the contrary, the aim of work seems to be retirement where you can fish all day or go to Florida or someplace – which seems to me grotesque, an absolute impoverishing of the idea of human life.”

As my seniors were leaving the Integrated Outdoor Program yesterday, and I thought about all of the adventures I’ve been on with them over the past two years (snowshoeing, climbing, river swimming, camping, looking at the stars, biking, spelunking, etc.), I realized how grateful I am to get to do the job that I do. My job is an incredible daily blessing.  I get to be outside with young people.  I get to adventure and explore with them.  We get to read great literature together, write poetry, discuss philosophy, and lay in the sun.  We get to make primitive fire and wander off trail.  Take shelter under Coastal Redwoods.  Get lost and find our way once again.

This life is a good life.  Thank you to all of my seniors.  I love you.


4 thoughts on “On Frank Bidart, The IOP, Nature, and Gratitude

  1. Hi Peter, Hope you are well. Just to let you know, the book ` Let them be eaten by bears` that you said was being posted out to me has not arrived. Maybe your team forgot and this is judt to let you know that if they did post it out, its lost somewhere in transit. Best wishes. Murali


  2. As a former IOP student (2006/2007), I am happy to communicate that we students are just as grateful to have had you as our teacher.

    I am now trying to deconstruct this last sentence, in hopes of finding a more correct way of writing it, for fear I am embarrassing my favorite English teacher. However, spare me your red pencils. It is no secret that many of those who experience the IOP become heavy drinkers. We are, surely, halfway to becoming great writers.

    Congratulations to you, sir- [:;,.(?)] (N)ot only for becoming a great writer but, also, for keeping your alcohol intake in check.


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