As far back as I can remember, my mother read to me. It started on bright summer days with her and I taking short walks to the library down the street to participate in reading contests with stickers as prizes. It started on cool winter nights with us flipping the pages as we snuggled in my twin bed. Even long after I learned how to read for myself, I had my mother’s voice in my head as I read instead of my own. It was her inflection, her tone, her silly voices that she used to attribute to talking frogs and princesses that first introduced me to the power of voice and story.
In high school it was my sophomore year English teacher, Mrs. Frech, who taught me that language in and of itself could be beautiful. It was her voice at the wooden podium that read Dunbar and Poe and Hawthorne so beautifully and with such emotion. That the sound of words placed carefully next to each other could be art and that all poetry deserved and yearned to be read aloud.
In college it was the voices of my friends, especially my co-blogmate Sarah, reading Shakespeare and Hemingway and e.e. cummings into the night on the quad. It was our voices echoing in computer labs at three a.m. as we dug into the nitty-gritty and possibility of language. It was there–through the aid of our professors–that we developed a deeper understanding of the classics and the beauty of connecting to others through our words.
Now I guess it is my voice, from behind my own podium, attempting to read the works that made me love the written word to a bunch of teenagers that every now and then surprise me by falling in love with Shakespeare or Dunbar or Fitzgerald too. Now I try to impress the lessons that I have learned and continue to learn from all the voices that continue to ring in my ears and tell me that stories are important and vital.
These voices reaching out from history and circumstance make me feel connected to something grander than myself. I am just one woman with one voice and with only one life to use it. Yet, I am connected to so many more lives and stories and voices because I read. I guess that’s why I love reading and why I am always reading something new: to connect.
Lit & Love,
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