Today I was fortunate enough to attend Davis Magnet School’s Poetry Cafe.
The Poetry Cafe was a Ask for More Arts JumpstART program supported by Parents for Public Schools of Greater Jackson. The theme was “self-metaphor” and students from two 4th grade classes presented.
The experience made me wonder about the teachers that inspired me to write. I began to wonder; How was the love of the written word instilled in me?
As a child, I remember the amount of respect and admiration my father gave words. As a Jew, he valued the words of Torah. As a secular student, he loved books and poems. I would listen to my father read Walt Whitman out loud, squeezing the sound out of each syllable in order to take in all that the word held. I wanted to create something that my father could pick up off of the page. I wanted to orchestrate sentences that would hold his attention long enough for him to look up from the book and say, “Isn’t that incredible?”
Books were always accessible in my house. The youngest daughter by ten years, I had a full library of my sister’s books by the time I could read. The greatest thrill was when my father would catch me taking a new book down from the shelves. A man of very few congratulatory remarks, my father was near impossible to please. But, if he caught me reading, he would come over to pinch my cheeks and remind me that books were the only way to strengthen my mind.
While I do not agree with many things my father has said over the years, I do agree with his respect for the written word and the power it has over the imagination. I am indebted to my father for instilling in me a deep appreciation for reading. He is the reason I carry two- sometimes three- books with me on a weekend trip. He is the reason I love the feel of books in my hand and the sight of books on the kitchen table. And he is the reason that when I come across a perfectly written sentence, one where the syntax is constructed so flawlessly I have no choice but to reread the sentence until it permeates my skin, he is the reason I consider that phenomenon one of the greatest pleasures in life.