Nov 14 2007
By Lacy Adams, SCCC Student
Dorothy, who is a well-known celebrity in Liberal, Kansas, continues to get the attention she deserves in a poem written by Bill McGlothing, a creative writing instructor at Seward County Community College. McGlothing’s poem, “The House of Twenty Dorothys” was recently published in Pittsburg State University’s the Midwest Quarterly, Summer 2007 Kansas Poetry Issue.
McGlothing, who has taught at SCCC for 10 years, said the motivation and inspiration for this poem was simply the pressure of feeling like a student in his own creative writing class.
Every year he has an exercise for the students in which he asks the students to write down random verbs, adjectives and nouns. These words are the only materials they must use to write a poem. This time, he chose to act as the student and asked his students to create a list of words for him to use in a poem. He became the student in his own class with pressure to meet the deadline for the assignment. Since he has lived in Liberal he has learned a lot about Dorothy’s House so he said the ideas began to flow from there. He thought that it was so interesting that the Dorothys working at the popular tourist site were required to pass tests and make their own outfits. They have 20 Dorothys at any given time. He used his knowledge of Dorothy’s House to write his poem.
Part of the poem reads:
The world comes to Dorothy’s House in Liberal, Kansas,
where twenty Dorothys vie to welcome all
to Oz. They stand tall, trained and tested, combat-ready,
each checkered dress inspection-crisp,
their ruby slippers, made themselves, click nervously,
await the day’s release, the squeal of squirmy children
from the lots, the coming of the pilgrims to the shrine.
“I’m a writing teacher,” he said. “That’s my job. Writing poetry has taken a backseat.” He said he focuses on teaching students more about creative writing and enjoys watching them grow and learn. Occasionally he brings his creative side out of the closet. Two summers ago at the Baker Arts Center he recited some of his poetry. Any kind of music gives McGlothing the ideas and inspiration he needs to be creative. He really writes only for himself and does not crave the spotlight or publicity for his poems.
His love of poetry and reading began at a young age. At 9, he started with Ray Bradbury stories and has continued to have his nose in a book ever since. He hardly ever saw his father read a book when he was young and his mother did not have the time until she was older. She was constantly asking her son for more recommendations of books. His initially inspiration for writing poetry came in high school when his best friend, who just happened to be a “jock,” wrote a few poems. “I said to myself well, if he can do it than I can do it. It was honestly pure, juvenile male motivation that started it.”
McGlothing received a Bachelor’s degree from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, majoring in English and German. He has master’s degree from the University of Oregon where he majored in English. He has taught for a total of 31 years and began as a graduate student at the University of New Mexico on a Navaho Reservation. While he was busy building adobe walls in Albuquerque he was asked to teach an English composition class to students of all ages and by the time he was done, had taught at every reservation in the state.
It was at a convention where he met fellow Seward County Community College English instructors, Dale Doll and Ann Judd, who told him of the opening at SCCC.
McGlothing met his wife, Janice, while she was a nontraditional student in his English class at Western Texas College in Snyder, Texas. He credits her for being a better writer than he is.
McGlothing said he loves to ride the country roads on his mountain bike. “I like to ride my butt off on my bike on the country roads and go 15-20 miles in a trip. I’ve composed poems, figured out problems with students and unwound after a long week while riding on my bike.” He enjoys clearing his mind and riding by himself but has occasionally gone on trips with Dr. John Loucks, Humanities Division chair at SCCC. He also spent seven weeks in Israel on an archaeological dig and is astounding at the change that has taken place since he was there in 1970. At the time, he felt so safe there before the suicide bombers. He could safely hike or walk wherever he wanted. Photography is also something that gives him pleasure and helps develop ideas for his poetry.
McGlothing has lived in larger cities throughout his life including Albuquerque and Denver, but now prefers only to visit them. He enjoys teaching students at SCCC and enjoys the peace of Liberal. The hometown of Dorothy’s House with its twenty Dorothys is where he’s happy to be.