Not the Baltimore You Imagined


After a wonderful cricket-filled night at home with the Benfers and then tonight out with Aimee & Co., I will shuffle off to bed. But first, a random note: I took a trip down memory lane on my drive from Baltimore’s downtown. I used to read for a blind philosophy professor, Kingsley Price, who taught at Hopkins. He was friends with Suzanne Langer, who always wrote kind dedications in her books to him. However, Price was not always nice in private to me. He was particularly fond of mocking any music I listened to because he was a connoisseur (& a philosopher of music) while I was just an undergrad, who read for him and took him to the store. Mr. Price also used to live on the same street as John Waters. I was at a private party once (by accident, not by fame) with Mr. Waters at the B-Bar a few years back, and I thought very hard about asking him if he knew his neighbor, the not-so-nice philosopher. I didn’t. I wanted to mostly because Price pointed out Waters’ house to me on a walk one day, and I saw that same house and its owner on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. If Mr. Price knew where Waters lived, Waters must certainly know Price, who lived a few doors down. And I wanted the dirt. I wanted to commiserate. I left it alone.

I just tried to find out if Mr. Price is still alive. I don’t think so. He was up there in years when I worked for him. I was always torn between feeling bad that he was old and alone and feeling anger at his seeming disdain for what could only have appeared to be my simple-mindedness. Maybe I kept at it longer than pride should have allowed because I needed the money. The day I gave Kingsley notice, he appeared to be amused, almost surprised that I might have some other plan in the world. I was replaceable and barely warranted a “Good luck.” I don’t recall receiving even that. However there is no real regret in this recollection; I don’t regret refraining from telling the man how I thought “he did me wrong.” I don’t regret never seeing him again. I guess I think life is funny in that strange *and* laughable way, and Kingsley made me pause tonight to remember the younger woman I once was with her different abilities to write off what might seem unacceptable now as well as envy her more adventurous, careless behavior. Ahh, the late night sentimental mind…

Cest la vie, poetry remains words on a page, a state of grace, and a book of songs, so a bit more from David Larsen’s The Thorn to redeem the malicious parts of me:

“Museum” or
“How to Play Museum”
Line up all your
Things in a row and
Charge your guardian
5 cents to visit

Good night everywhere and everyone.

Entertainment Poetry

AMY KING View All →

Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edits the anthology series, Bettering American Poetry, and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.

6 Comments Leave a comment

  1. It’s somewhat funny that I write this to you about Kingsley Price, because I don’t know you or him. But I know that he is alive and relatively well. Now you know…. I don’t think you can really tell what a person feels or thinks. Maybe it is way for him to protect himself from life’s disappointments and not to get attached to anybody or anything. Don’t know…

  2. He’s still alive. I’m considering applying for the job you had. I’m going to be a sophomore at JHU in three weeks, and I am searching the internet for info on him – can’t find a picture, but then here I find this entry!

    So, would you or wouldn’t you recommend working for him?

    Sorry to comment very randomly on such an old entry. Best!

    • Hi Colleen,

      I’m not sure – I’d say, based on my memories, you need a bit of a thick skin when it comes to “accepting” (staying mum) his comments directed at you. To be fair, he didn’t say a lot about me to me until I would take him out somewhere. Then he let me know with his comments and even by laughing at me that he thought I was a simpleton. Sorry if that gets your goat, AB, but it’s true. Where his derision came from, like you said AB, is anyone’s guess since I didn’t know his true thoughts or feelings. But that’s not really a defense, now is it?

      Colleen, the work is relatively easy though. He often has you read old classical philosophy, which at times can bore and at others be interesting. He often fell asleep during these sessions. He’d only awaken once you had stopped reading for a number of minutes. Otherwise, the rest is pretty easy too. You might accompany him to talks or take him to the store. Sometimes we walked somewhere – he simply takes your elbow and you tell him when there’s a curb or how many steps to climb. You get used to it quite readily. Overall once you get past any remarks, I’d say the next risk is simply getting bored with the job. I finally got a better one, which says that I was looking while working for him. It’s that kind of work. Good luck and please keep me posted!


      p.s. the only other work I did for him, which he did not even acknowledge, was to take a handwritten essay of his home, type it out, format it, and put it on a disk to send for publication consideration. It was rejected. He never once thanked me.

  3. Kingsley Price died on October 28, 2009, at the age of 92. He was much respected by many of his former students, many of whom kept up their friendship with him.

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