by Ken Anderson
Your heart is warm
A testament to fire
Your spirit is free
Flying light lift higher
I love the way you smile
An example of your pain
I love the way you dance
Like bringing thunder with the rain
I love the way you look
A reflection of your cause
I love the way you speak
A story told with no pause
Your heart is warm
An eternity that's true
I really just am trying to say
My dear, that I love you
Sometimes a teacher can change everything. That was the case for local poet Ken Anderson when he took Professor Len Blanchard’s English course at State College of Florida seven years ago. Now 28, Ken wasn’t even sure he wanted to be in a classroom. By the end of the course, Ken knew that writing and reflection would be his journey forevermore.
“I didn’t even know that stuff existed,” Ken says of the wide array of readings in poetics and literary classics that Len introduced him to. “I liked his teaching style, could see how passionate he was. When the class ended, I asked if we could meet up and talk now and again. He made time for me, and over the years I read all the different writers he talked about, read his poetry and plays, and began to write my own. Len was the catalyst. He told me I was good enough, and he changed everything for me.”
Last summer, Ken realized it had been awhile since he had called his mentor. Len’s daughter answered the phone and let Ken know that the old professor had passed away.
“I was devastated,” Ken says of that terrible news. “I felt guilty for not having called him more. He’s the reason I am who I am. I have the passion I have because of him.”
Originally from Connecticut, Len earned a PhD in Literature from Emory in 1975. He appreciated and taught writers across the literary arts, including everyone from Shakespeare, to Camus, to Louise Erdrich, to Lorca, Brecht and Thackeray. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on Thomas Hardy.
Ken loves touring on his Harley when he’s not earning a living at his day job as a HVAC tech. He thinks about Len often as he sits down to compose a poem.
“There’s what you have to do to make a living,” he says. “And then there is our real life, the life of the mind. That’s what Len gave me.”