When I was in the 11th and the 12thgrade at St. Edward’s High School in Austin, Texas I was extremely jealous of a fellow student (he was not a boarder but a day student) called Howard Houston. He had a dry humour and a way with words. His essays were interesting. He had the talent.
At University of the Americas in Mexico City I had an English Lit professor (whose name I have long ago forgotten) who looked like Robert Frost. I sat in the back row. This man mumbled, on an on about his friends Frost, Faulkner and Williams. He told us stories about them and I frankly did not give a dam. I was dense and stupid. I was pretty smart when I was 16 or 17 but by the time I was 18 my only interests were limited to science fiction and cars. I had reverted to what now would be the stupid teenage 16.
In high school I had learning issues. The word issue and learning disability had yet to be coined. I suffered from dyslexia but I was not to find out that I had that until 1975 when I saw a TV add about it in Vancouver.
Our teachers gave out extra points if we could memorize a poem. I only memorized poems when I was assigned. This was an extremely difficult task for me. I never was able to gather extra points for memorizing passages of the bible for Brother Edwin but Howard Houston could and did.
Perhaps this is why I have come into enjoying poetry so late in my life. I cannot memorize poems or quote Shakespeare. But I do have a memory for events, names of obscure people or citations and or paragraphs from books. I know on what side of the page they are.
The first poet who somehow penetrated my poetry barrier was William Carlos Williams. Since then I have added quite a few including my most favourite Emily Dickinson, Jorge Luís Borges and Homero Aridjis.
I have never been tempted to write poetry. I would not know where to start. It is far easier to pick a photograph and then find an appropriate poem by Dickinson or Borges. This time around this picture of Julia Reid has no takers with either poets. The photograph will have to stand on its own. A Baltic Surprise The perfect and patient muse
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.