A digital special section of | Subscribe

Marianne Boruch

Marianne Boruch

Acclaimed poet | Purdue professor | Class of 1972

In Marianne Boruch’s day, you never knew who you’d bump into on the Quad.

Well, except for this one peculiar fellow, who always seemed to be around.

“We called him ‘Jacket Man,’” says the award-winning poet and Purdue professor. “We never knew if he was a student or not, but he would quietly approach you if you were lying there in the grass. 

“And he’d ask politely: ‘Pardon me, but can I put on your jacket for moment?’

“This being the late '60s, early '70s, you’d shrug and say, ‘Well, sure.’ And he’d slip on your jacket, close his eyes and look smitten with absolute pleasure.

"After a few minutes, he’d give it back to you with a sweet ‘thank you so much.’ And that would be that. He’d wander off in search of yet another coat.

“Day after day, month after month. We held him in a kind of wonder. And so the world widened: there were harmless, simple pleasures, wacko but almost poignant.”