I knew James P. Doyle, Jim Doyle, as my professor at Fordham College in the Bronx, New York. This story comes from an arts advocate named Elizabeth Brouha, and it concerns Jim's post-Fordham life, when he lived in Sutton, Vermont, and taught at Lyndon State College. Jim was involved in an arts group that was funding a poet-printer's residencies in local schools, including the school that Jim and Ellen's son Joshua attended. One day Joshua came home, shouting "My poem is in the book. My poem is in the book." The book was a compilation of poems by children in the schools the poet-printer had visited. Ms. Brouha writes that Jim
was so tickled with the whole thing that he wrote a letter to Ellen Levell at the Vermont Council on the Arts about the whole experience. Ellen was going down to Washington, D.C. to plead that more money be given to National Endowment for the Arts so that the state councils could have more money for programs like these. She went before a committee and read them Joshua's poem and his father's letter. It was the greatest thing on the program. It carried the day and the Endowment did get more money.One of the mysteries of Jim's life is that he never — to the best of my knowledge, and I've checked, carefully — "published," as people in academia say. When Jim was getting ready to leave Fordham, he told me that he thought he was getting close to having something to say in print. But he left no critical writing aside from his dissertation (on the artist and type designer Eric Gill). So I was happy to find Jim's name in a book, via Google Book Search. I doubt I'd have ever seen this story without it.
And that's the story of Joshua's howling success.
From an untitled essay by Elizabeth Brouha in Vermonters: Oral Histories from Down Country to the Northeast Kingdom ed. Ron Strickland (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1998), 21
[If you go to page 20, that's Jim Doyle in the dark striped sweater. Strange: the page with the passage I've quoted is no longer part of the book's limited preview. You can get to it though by searching the book for words from the passage.]
Jim Doyle (1944-2005)
Teaching, sitting, standing