Sybil Priebe


Multi-Genre Paper

13 Apr 04

Now that I know who I am, what do I do with her?

To Whom This May Concern:

Maybe I should start with this: I have always liked school. I have always liked learning, sitting and taking in whatever knowledge my teachers could lend me, and I have loved creating. Letting my thoughts grow into actual beings. And as Steve Ward, one of my undergraduate professors, says: It is in the process of creating where we learn the most. Not in the product.”

my whole being is a dark chant
which will carry you
perpetuating you
to the dawn of eternal growths and blossomings
in this chant i sighed you sighed
in the chant
i grafted you to the tree to the water to the fire.

So, my process began as a junior in high school. That is where my need, my desire, to compose started really. I became alive then I think. It is a distinct moment in that class that I remember "seeing" in my blurred old age memory now.


10 Nov 93

Sitting behind Tara today in English... She is gossiping to me about her boyfriend and the sex they had the night before, or the party she went to… who knows. Then, like a ray of light, Mrs. Morris mentions this chapter on Henry David Throreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. I was hooked… on the description of who they were… on the idea of transcendentalism. Here comes cheesiness – I was inspired.


I would sit hunched over in class and highlight their words. That's where it began. What amazes me, to this day, is that at that time I put those emotions with words on the back burner. That same year, I took drafting technology classes at NDSCS and fell in love with the designs of floor plans. I urged my parents to allow me to go to North Dakota State, but not because I wanted to be a writer but because I wanted to be an architect. I thought I wanted to design houses, not sentences or lessons.

life is perhaps
a long street through which a woman holding a basket
passes everyday
life is perhaps
a rope with which a man hangs himself from a branch

Then, during my freshmen year of college, depression hit once again. Suddenly, I questioned everything. I went on a bagel-a-day diet. I napped with a growling stomach and skipped classes. Slowly, I met people, fell for another boy, and tried with all my might to reach out of this hole that I seemed to have thrown myself into.

life is perhaps a child returning from school.
life is perhaps lighting up a cigarette
in the narcotic repose between two love-makings
or the absent gaze of a passerby
who takes off his hat to another passerby
with meaningless smile and a good morning.

"They" say if you want to change something, fall in love. Love is insane that way, I guess. So, in Jason, I found parts of myself that I seemed to have lost after high school. My goofiness and my femininity. He also brought back a false sense of security for me. I started to depend on him. My studies started to lack, and even though I changed my major to English Education, I still felt unsure about my future. My mother couldn't understand why I wanted to be a teacher rather than an architect, and Jason looked at my writings and wondered why I didn't sound more mature. The only people, at that time, that seemed to have faith in me and my abilities were me, my siblings, and my father.

life is perhaps that enclosed moment
when my gaze destroys itself in the pupil of your eyes.
and it is in the feeling
which i will put into the Moons impression
and the Nights perception
in a room as big as loneliness
my heart
which is as big as love
looks at the simple pretexts of it happiness
at the beautiful decay of flowers in the vase
at the sapling you planted in our garden
and the songs of canaries
which sing to the size of the window.
this is my lot

Teaching was and is still my religion. This is how I give back to society. I told this to the people in Battle Lake, MN as they interviewed me a day in May of 1999. All I know is that they liked me enough to hire me on the spot.

my lot is
a sky which is taken away at the drop of a curtain
my lot is going down a flight of disused stairs
to regain something amid putrefaction and nostalgia
my lot is sad promenade in the garden of memories
and dying in the grief of a voice which tells me

I really, truly started to find myself in Battle Lake. Jason had ditched me for an ex-girlfriend from his past. I found myself alone in a new world. A new town. In a relatively new job, with new students, and a new found freedom. Lots of soul-searching occurred that summer before I began teaching. I immersed myself in the yearbook program, in the books assigned, in making my inexpensive apartment near the lake MINE. Slowly, he left my mind, and peace entered.

But being alone has always been easy for me. I could do the Walden thing. I could live alone on a lake without much contact with people and be OKAY. So, in my happy solitude, I threw my passions and energy into my teaching, into getting to know my students.

i love
your hands.i will plant my hands in the garden
i will grow i know i know i know
and swallows will lay eggs
in the hollows of my ink-stained hands.

I struggled. I went home at 4:30 most afternoons and would sleep until the next morning. My efforts seemed to be defeating me. And besides all that, my social life was lacking. The school wanted this.. the students needed something else... my life yearned for something else. I kept trying to find me and keep ME happy and content. Those ideals were in conflict with everyone else almost all of the time.

i shall wear
a pair of twin cherries as earrings
and i shall put dahlia petals on my fingernails

But I couldn't keep up the facade for long. I would defend myself to enough people and teach my with my liberal ways. Well, life doesn't work out that way most times.

Suddenly, in March, I got the letter from the superintendent asking me to meet with him and the principal about "next year's curriculum goals" AND when I asked if I should bring books or typed up plans and he said NO.. I knew. I knew. Female intuition kicked in. I was about to get fired. In pure shock, I sat there as he told me that I, Sybil Priebe, someone who ALWAYS reached her goals.. always had done everything RIGHT in her whole life, had, in fact, not added up to "district standards" as a teacher.

But I knew who I was, and I was not about to be defeated. So that same day, after writing an e-mail to all my family and friends, I took out the Graduate School application that I had hidden in my desk. I filled out the missing parts, found some sample writings in my file cabinet, and used the postage from the school that was about to screw me over to mail it up to North Dakota State. I would go back to the campus that challenged me in the first place.

there is an alley
where the boys who were in love with me
still loiter with the same unkempt hair
thin necks and bony legs
and think of the innocent smiles of a girl
who was blown away by the wind one night.

there is an alley
which my heart stolen
from the streets of my childhood.
the journey of a form along the line of time
inseminating the line of time with the form
a form conscious of an image
coming back from a feast in a mirror.

We all have hurdles. We all have to find ways to jump them without blaming others. I know now that I have a path. Some people are not allowed the chance to realize their path in life. I am lucky enough to know that teaching and writing is where I want to be. I foresee many more struggles, but I am willing to not let them get me down. I will not let people make me question who I am. I know. And only I know.

and it is in this way
that someone dies
and someone lives on.

no fisherman shall ever find a pearl in a small brook
which empties into a pool.

i know a sad little fairy
who lives in an ocean
and ever so softly plays her heart into a magic flute
a sad little fairy
who dies with one kiss each night
and is reborn with one kiss each dawn.


this poem is by furough farrokhazad




Sybil Priebe




*Genres used:




4-Journal Entry



*For Paper 3- 5 genres must be used; the essay itself counts as one. We’ve written a lot of other genres this semester… find pieces of each to use in your Paper 3.