My father read poetry to me, encouraged me to memorize poems. But the writing of it was quite a different thing.
A work survives its readers; after a hundred or two hundred years, it is read by new readers who impose on it new modes of reading and interpretation. The work survives because of these interpretations, which are, in fact, resurrections: without them, there would be no work.
I’m a professor of comparative literature, among other things, so I’m able to read in a couple of other languages, and I understand that not everyone is, not everyone can, although it is quite stunning how many people do read Spanish in the United States, but moving between languages is also extremely helpful.
I liked to write from the time I was about 12 or 13. I loved to read. And since I only spoke to my brother, I would write down my thoughts. And I think I wrote some of the worst poetry west of the Rockies. But by the time I was in my 20s, I found myself writing little essays and more poetry – writing at writing.
I grew up thinking that you were supposed to read and write all your waking hours.
The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most fatal tendency – the belief that the here and now is all there is.
To buy books would be a good thing if we also could buy the time to read them.
The poetry you read has been written for you, each of you – black, white, Hispanic, man, woman, gay, straight.
Children will not pretend to be enjoying books, and they will not read books because they have been told that these books are good. They are looking for delight.
The first book I ever really read was Plato’s ‘Republic,’ and then I had to go over that five times or something.