Rate My Professors puts poets in their place

Joe Wenderoth: He <i>would</i> look good in a hairnet.

Joe Wenderoth: He would look good in a hairnet.

Check out your favorite professor at www.ratemyprofessor.com.

Those lucky enough to attend college know that university students can be entitled assholes, which is probably why www.ratemyprofessors.com is so successful: It’s a perfect site for kids to exact revenge. Administrators of the site, which boasts more than 6.8 million reviews of more than a million professors, claim that 65 percent of the ratings are actually positive.

But, like many things in life, it’s the negative ones that are funnier.

Take, for example, Joe Wenderoth, one of my favorite professors from UC Davis’ creative writing program. A widely anthologized poet and author of the profoundly hilarious novel Letters to Wendy’s, his workshops were engaging and filled with surprise. But, as one of his former students maintains, he’s also kind of a dick: “Easily the most shaming experience in a class I have ever had. His lectures are useless and his ideas are about as pretentious as could be.

“He should resign as soon as possible and join an assembly line.”

Even one of UC Davis’ most soft-spoken artists, literature and writing professor Clarence Major, falls prey to the harsh blade of the Internet. As one student notes, “[H]is lectures are so boring they will make you want to poke your eye out.”


And how about Alan Williamson, author of Res Publica and Other Poems, recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship and poetry professor at UCD? “[I]magine Cleveland in [Family Guy] … now make the way he talks five times slower, now imagine him teaching poetry and reading poems … TA DA! you got Williamson!”

But what about poets who teach elsewhere? How do other famous poets fare under the wrath of Rate My Professor?

Not so well.

Here’s a Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University student on Nikki Giovanni, the “Princess of Black Poetry”: “Classes consisted of her bragging about how she hobnobbed with elite poets and authors. … It didn’t help that she always referred to whites as the ‘oppressor,’ either.”

Giovanni probably gave that white devil a C.

And don’t tell Oprah, but this letter-transposing student from Wake Forest University deems Maya Angelou as: “Arrogant, spiteful, rude, boring and possessing a thoroughly mediocre intellect. The only thing that humanizes her is the supsicion that her incessant bullying stems from an awareness of just what a fraud she is.”

Yes, no one is safe, even former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins: “[E]very poet who’s ever been awarded the Laureate has gone to hell. … I think they ought to award 100 of them a year,” writes a Sarah Lawrence College student on the site.

And, alas, the former poetry editor for The New Yorker and Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Muldoon—a prolific academe who most aspiring poetry students would give their gonad to study under—is reduced to a pithy “Sort of an ****.” It’s up to you to fill in the stars.