Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Emma Bolden : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

Almost as soon as I became aware of words, I became aware of their magic. Our local PBS station aired re-runs of an old show called The Letter People when I was a kid, and I was totally obsessed with it. That show instilled in me the idea of language as a living, breathing thing as exciting and vivid as any 1970’s-era puppet show. I loved playing around with language but didn’t really recognize that as poetry until I was in 2nd grade. I wasn’t the most popular kid in my school (as you might have guessed, seeing as how I was obsessed with TV literacy program) and I was also often bored. One day, I read ahead in my English book while the rest of the class played a game. I came across Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” and it was as if I’d been struck by lightning. I felt seen and understood in a way that I’d never felt, as if I wasn’t, after all, alone in feeling so completely alone. Even then, I understood that something about the way Dickinson used language made me feel that way. The way she chose and arranged words on the page felt strange and electric. I couldn’t get enough of it. It was all I wanted to do and read and live, from that day on.

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