Two of my best friends, the kind I’d call forever-friends or soul friends, have loved poetry. One, a high school English teacher and forensics coach, used to write comments in haiku on speech contest judging forms. I wish I were that creative.
This article in the New York Times got me thinking about my grandmother. She grew up in an era when memorizing poetry was part of the curriculum. To this day she and her sister can quote hundreds of poems. Sitting with them is like sitting in the middle of a decades-long literary conversation, filled with inside jokes consisting of snippets of verse. As Jim Holt argues, who needs an iPod when you’ve got Ulysses in your memory?
Words work on us in mysterious ways. Imagine writing with Shakespeare or Tennyson or Anne Sexton or Edwin Arlington Robinson forming the foundation of your work.