What person in your life helped you understand the importance of choosing words carefully? What would you say to them if you met them today?
Five, five, words alive! Welcome to Thursday, Day 5 of Words Matter Week (WMW).
This was one of the more difficult WMW prompts for me. For I’ve been fortunate in my life to have several people who guided me toward a love of words, as well as being in situations simpatico—even if some of them were very adverse at the time—to the creative process. And who hasn’t been inspired by authors, journalists, musicians, photographers, artists, advocates, historians, or dancers from the world at large, outside our bubbles of direct experience? As I’ve already mentioned many of those literary mentors at my post here, I won’t enumerate them again this week. But I will send a digital shout-out to those word-folk who helped forge my love of wordsmithing.
For Mrs. H: Thank you for sticking by me when I wasn’t the best, the brightest, or the most well-behaved student. It was because of you that I realized that spelling and diagramming sentences were important.
For Mrs. B: The daily journaling I did in your class was an invaluable experience to me as a young writer. That you believed in my writing (a satire piece) enough to suggest I send it to a literary magazine astounds me still today, and I thank you heartily for all you did as a mentor to encourage me to prop up my angsty self-esteem.
For Ms. F: You were tough, but you taught me how to write a good, evidence-based essay and to explore the canon. And when to blaze into other literary territories.
For Uncle J: You broadened my world experiences by taking me to a play, a symphony, and other artistic endeavors, as well as introducing me to other cultures and the notion that I could reach beyond our own limited, if upland, borders.
For Professors F and S: Artists in your own right, you whose professionalism and creativity remain real-world models of poetry-writing that I aspire to today. I humbly thank you.
For Dr. R: I owe so much of my thesis’ success to your guidance. You were the balanced and involved male intellectual I ‘d not had the privilege of knowing enough of in my life. You—if no one else—taught me several salient facts:
- Words slip, slide, perish, and sometimes break.
- Hard work and even harder study can pay off.
- Literature can be a passion, and maybe even a comfortable disease (i.e., a lifelong profession).
- There are worse things than to be a swinger of birches. Also, homo ludens. And Faulkner and Frost can be fun!
- Sandra Bullock makes some people’s “teeth sweat,” as yours.
- When in doubt, seek out a covey of quail. (Okay, to be fair, I don’t kill animals; I do, however, shoot them in photographs whenever I’m able.)
- I suspect there’s a hell of a good universe where you are now. I would say “let’s go,” but I have miles to go before I sleep (hope springs eternal, anyway). How’s that for mixing poets, Dr. R?
I will share Day 6 (Friday) later today, friends. Meanwhile, trip the light blogtastic and visit NAIWE’s WMW site for Friday’s prompt.