Prefers serial killer novels to poetry

Some time ago  I wrote about what happened when New York City schools chancellor Harold Levy asked members of the School Board to read and discuss three poems by Wallace Stevens. Now I want to add one of the letters to the editor the Times published in response to their article about Levy's unusual move.

To the Editor: Reacting to the possibility that Harold O. Levy, the interim schools chancellor, had put three Wallace Stevens poems and other interesting reading matter in her mailbox, Ninfa Segarra, a school board member, said, ''Probably if I had gotten it I would have thrown it out,'' and added: ''I'm not a poetry kind of person. I like serial killer novels'' (front page, May 2). As New York City public school students face the start of an intense testing season and while the march toward more teacher testing continues, Ms. Segarra's close-minded remarks make one wonder whether school board members, too, should be subjected to academic testing.

New York, May 3, 2000
The writer was an English teacher.