Saturday, July 15, 2006

Whom would you like to write like?

Yesterday, my daughter asked the thought-provoking question, "If you could write like any writer throughout history, who would that be?" It led to an interesting discussion about whether one would want to be a classic like Shakespeare (and would that sell today?) or contemporary (like Updike), a woman or a man, a financial success or a cult favorite, etc. Ultimately, I chose Emily Dickinson, a personal favorite and, of course, a poet. Oddly enough, as much as I love poetry, I have rarely aspired to WRITE poetry myself. But I would love to write (anything) with the economy, power, and surprise of her poetry. I admire her phrasing so much, the careful word choice, the very timeless feeling of her ponderings. And many of her works are accessible to children, even today. Here's one example, just as a reminder. I love this poem for so many reasons, not the least of which is its reminder of the power of the spoken word (poetry aloud!).

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

Emily Dickinson

as cited in A WORLD OF WORDS, AN ABC OF QUOTATIONS by Tobi Tobias and Peter Malone (Lothrop, 1998)

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