My English degree finally pays off.

In 1999 I graduated from Trinity College with a Bachelor’s degree in English. Though I’m quite certain that my years of study have contributed to my success as a teacher and a writer, it’s always been difficult to pinpoint exactly how.

An English degree teaches you to read, write and think, but you could already do this before you arrived at school.

College just improved upon those skills. Hopefully. But as far as identifying the moments in your life when those skills specifically acquired in the college classroom were utilized, it’s been impossible.  

Until Saturday night.

Literary Death Match came to Hartford on Saturday night, and after participating as a contestant and losing twice, I served as one of the three judges this time around, along with writer and performer Elna Baker and picture book author Bob Shea. 


I was tapped to be the judge of literary merit.

This meant that I had to comment on the work of the four competing writers by comparing and contrasting their work to other famous works of literature and  commenting on their literary prowess, while also being kind and amusing. 

It was harder than I thought.

Somehow, I managed to make references to Vonnegut, Shakespeare, Saramago, Roth, Updike and Vonnegut's fictional science fiction writer Kilgore Trout.

I was going to make a reference to Virginia Woolf as well, but I decided to keep my vitriol for this author in check in case there were fans in the audience.

It was the first time in my life that I felt my English degree being put to it’s full use. I felt myself flexing my literary muscles in a way I never have before, and damn it, it felt good.

Four years of intense study and thousands of dollars in student loans finally paid off in this literary game show.

Totally worth it.