Books by faculty and students: Harry Bauld

Vivien Sweet, Staff Writer

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Upper Division English Teacher Harry Bauld’s writing career, which started as a beer, wine, and spirits reviewer for Boston Magazine, has since spanned many decades and cumulated in three books of very miscellaneous genres.

Bauld’s first book, “On Writing the College Application Essay,” which is perhaps his most popular work, came from working as a college admissions officer at Brown University and Columbia University, and a very lucky coincidence.

After being invited to the school to speak to Horace Mann’s senior class of 1986 about writing the college essay, one of the attendants contacted New York Times reporter Maureen Dowd, who reached out to him about an article regarding the process.

The next morning, Bauld received calls from editors at multiple publishing houses, and before he knew it, he signed with Harper Collins and began cranking out what would become the first book to specifically address how to write the standard college essay. “If I had to distill [the book], I would say that the moment you ask what admission officers are looking for on an essay, you’re asking the wrong question,” Bauld said. “The question is, ‘What do you have to say?’. It’s your personal truth.”

Bauld, who considers the 650-word personal narrative to be a “genre of its own all by itself,” emphasizes in his book that just like any other form of writing, you need to know what the clichés are. “Don’t write the ‘Miss America’ essay, the ‘jock’ or ‘The Trip’ essay,” Bauld said.

Students often forget that their memory is the piece that they have that no one else does, he said, and so they must use it to their advantage. In that same year, 1987, Bauld also co-authored “History of the Horace Mann School” with Jerry Kissling, a fellow teacher at the school at the time with whom Bauld had worked on writing projects for Columbia University with, for the school’s centennial. However, Bauld had yet to truly find his niche in the writing sphere, until he started teaching at the Putney School in Vermont.

“Vermont is a poetic place in so many ways,” Bauld said “It must have or I think it must have the highest proportion of poetsper-capita in the country; it is filled with poets the way New York is filled with psychotherapists.” All of a sudden, he found himself writing poems more and more frequently, and he realized that this was what he was meant to write all along, he said.

In September of 2018, Bauld published his first poetry collection, called “The Uncorrected Eye,” named for his experiences with terrible eyesight. “I have retained an affection for that kind of blurry vision of world; the world before correction, before the technological intervention,” he said.

The anthology focuses on vision and its various derivatives, such as bad eyesight and art. One poem, called “In the Street Without My Glasses,” discusses observing the world without lenses.

Last November, Bauld hosted a poetry reading at Colombia University, which a handful of his students, including Charles Simmons (12), attended. Simmons, who referred to his 11th-grade English teacher as an “artist of the generation,” felt a unique sense of pride when listening to Bauld recite his poetry, he said.

“Often times, especially in the English department, many teachers are extremely talented, but we only know them as teachers,” Simmons said. “So to see Mr. Bauld as an artist instead of a teacher was really cool and special.”

Bauld has already started writing a second book of poetry, which will be completed around June of 2020, he said. Although he has less time to write during the school year, he often writes alongside his students in his senior English elective.

“I have never met an art from I didn’t like,” Bauld said. “I had been teaching poetry—the pinnacle of literature—for a while, so I had always loved it. It had just always seemed intimidating and lofty.”