Tuesday, February 11, 2014

With respect for David Bosnick: 24 years later and his tremendous influence remains the same.

Keep on coaching, Bosnick. Keep us focused on the win.
"I still think it's funny, Crandall," he said as his wife was autographing books upstairs. "But thank you for coming to see her. Thank you for your kind words. Thank you for meeting my daughter, Lily, and thank you for remembering Eli. Even so, your family dinners of Kraft macaroni and cheese with kielbasa still makes me laugh."

I was a freshman, 18 years old, when I took my first creative writing class at Binghamton University and when David Bosnick gave us an initial prompt to write about a typical dinner with our family. Drawing from memory, it was obvious to write about Kraft Mac & Cheese and boiled kielbasa - it was a staple in our house. I began writing furiously about eating at 5388 Amalfi Drive and shared all the details of a normal evening conversation

The high school I attended in New York State didn't teach creative writing and, even though my grandmother wrote eccentrically all the time, it was rare I was given opportunities to use my creative imagination. I was a product of the Regents regime, earning a diploma from standardized tests, memorization, and robotic learning. I was not, however, a student encouraged to develop my writing, to explore my original ideas, or to think outside of the box. Sure, I was an "A" student, an honors kid, and I followed the rules to get me into a reputable college. But I wasn't a writer.

I had to meet David Bosnick first.

In 1991, I was enrolled in a creative writing class for bubbly-eyed freshmen fresh out of our televised worlds - dazed by Beverly Hills 90201, the Tracy Ullman Show, Roseanne, and the Cosby's. David Bosnick asked us about the books we read for fun and we all talked about television programs we liked to watch, instead. We admitted we were too busy  to read much and I can remember him asking, "Crandall, you say you grew up in a household like Roseanne's. Who the hell is Roseanne?"

Bosnick claimed he didn't have a television. He didn't need one. He owned book stores, an original mind, and the freedom to write the poetry and stories that pleased him. What? No television? Who was this guy? What was his way of knowing?

It was one semester, but Bosnick's chip was planted in my skull rather deeply. A writer, he advertised, resists the normal world. They lead their minds on original pathways and script/draft/etch/doodle ideas to capture the brilliance of everyday life. They dress like detectives, too, and Marris Goldberg and I (a freshman year crush) went as Sherlock and Watson to a Burger King where we eavesdropped on Binghamton locals to get good material. Writers pay attention to the world around them.

I was contacted by Marris last week who share that David Bosnick, the athlete, father, husband,  creator, and teacher we both loved, passed away in Belfast, Ireland, after working out at a gym. He was a giant man - one who looked like he could wrestle an entire class into the floor if he needed to. I remember him as short, stocky, and thick - intrigued that he was once a college football player but he chose a career of creativity.

Over the weekend, I thought about how lucky I am that, while working on my doctorate at Syracuse University, I saw that David's wife, Liz Rosenberg, was reading from her new book at a bookstore at Destiny mall (then Carousel). I went to the reading, I admit it, to see if David Bosnick would be with her, and he was. I told him I graduated in 1994, moved to Louisville to become a teacher, and was, at that time of our visit, a doctorate student at Syracuse University. He shared with me that he, too, became a teacher and talked about his love for working with middle school students. The meeting was short, but I had an opportunity to meet the man, again, who brushed the intellect of a fledgling so many years ago with his colorful stroke of genius. The impact on my creative imagination is enormous and the news, never a good time to hear, stopped me in my place.

Yesterday, when I looked for photographs online, I didn't find any except the one I post above. I like the photograph as it seems to be the way I remember him - a man on the sideline always cheering a team on. That is how he taught underclassmen, how I assume he led 7th and 8th graders, how he coached Rugby players, and how he'll forever be imprinted in my mind.

Rest In Peace, David Bosnick. The next kielbasa and Mac'n'Cheese dinner I make for myself will be in your honor.

I hope to hear you laughing at me from above.

No comments:

Post a Comment