C of I professor speaks at first ever TEDx Boise

Polish your teeth with a dry washcloth. Never put anything into your mouth that’s white. Those are just a couple of the sayings Diane Raptosh remembers hearing from her mother while growing up.

Last Friday, The College of Idaho alumna and English professor shared those sayings and more as she had the honor to speak at the first ever TEDx Boise event.

TED—not a who, but a what—is a nonprofit that began in 1984 as a conference where technology, entertainment and design converged. Today, TED is devoted to spreading ideas—from science and business to global issues—in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). Independently run TEDx events also help share ideas in communities around the world.

For Raptosh, the current Idaho Writer in Residence and 2013 Poet Laureate of Boise, the TEDx event provided an opportunity to talk about the role of poetry in a healthy democracy.

“Poetry is a misunderstood and, often, an underutilized national resource,” Raptosh said.

Raptosh read sections of her latest book, American Amnesiac, which is a dramatic monologue in verse spoken through the voice of amnesiac Calvin Rinehart upon his awakening from a state of forgetfulness. The book takes a Walt Whitman-esque approach to ethical and moral issues.

Some of the themes discussed include rising economic inequality, the increased gap between the rich and the poor, environmental degradation and race-related matters.

“In the book, I took on as many things as I could, primarily out of the sense of despair,” Raptosh said.

Out of a field of more than 100 applicants, Raptosh and seven others were selected to speak at TEDx Boise. To watch the speakers, click here. Raptosh is the second speaker and starts at the 17:30 mark.

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. The C of I has a legacy of academic excellence, a winning athletics tradition and a history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars and 14 Marshall, Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. For more information, visit