Oh My, PhD: A Poem For The Academic Journey

PhD Writing and Reading

Oh My, PhD

I awake.
I see nothing but an unfinished desire.
That despite my greasy ruffled hair
and my unwashed face I sit, there,
in my chair pondering over Butler, and Marx,
Foucault, Adorno, Shakespeare, Hall and du Gay,
Both night and day, I am consumed by theories
That don’t often make sense, too dense,
For me, a scholar to be. That’s my journey as a PhD.

I choose to stay home to type, in my PJ,
letter upon letter, stumbling over words, phrases,
sentences that say, no, compel me to stop, read and summarise.
At other times, I stop far too long, too difficult to get
Past a theoretical knot, which I wish to untie
Not without a sigh, then restring coherently
into what I think I’m saying, no, I think what they’re saying.
But that’s just me, stuck in the mode of a PhD.

Eighty thousand words is not difficult at all,
For it’s the quality of the arguments, with lots of citations
And references that add or subtract from theories I have read
That’s more important than the number of words I need to fulfil.
At an undergraduate level, word counts are your goals, but
At the post-, your goal is to complete – as what has been foretold –
Your research, your writing, your case studies, whatever it might be
It’s all about completion: self-fulfilment. Self actualisation,
In the pursuit of a PhD.

Suddenly my vocabulary changes
Based on ethnography, anthropology, physics,
No, that’s just not me. I’m reading about wars,
histories, cultures, genders, and consumerism. I consider human
rights, social injustices, ethics, and everything in between
Which I urgently “problematise” – that’s the keyword
in academia. And now, I fear, I speak
ontology, phenomenology, epistemology, the orgies
of frameworks that I cannot grapple with
To give head or a thumbs up, or down,
or whichever active positionality is preferred.
It’s a theory affecting practice, and practice informing theory
that makes my research meaningful, impactful, as a PhD.

I may groan and I may moan
But it’s all worth it. When it’s over, you will see
My name with a PhD.
– Edmund Chow © 16 October 2015, 1.32pm
Contextual note:
The author has 2 more weeks to submit his first full draft, has 2 more chapters to go, and has already exceeded the word limit.