It took an engaging, enthusiastic, patient seventh grade English teacher to show me that I could enjoy reading the classics as much as I enjoyed reading for pleasure. Poetry is a great example of this. It felt like all of my peers were so in touch with the imagery and the emotion of the poems we were reading, while I trailed along completely lost. I didn’t understand what was going on – there were flowers, but they weren’t flowers, they were feelings – it couldn’t hold my attention the way that Lord of the Rings did. And then Mr. Laszlo picked up Robert Frost, said “this one is for Hanna” (to the entire class’s confusion), and read “Mending Wall” aloud.
“…Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him…”
My ears perked up. That crafty man had read enough of my bad, 13-year-old epic fantasy to know which poems to show me. He showed me the common ground between the things I wanted to read and the classics, creating a little niche in the canon just for me. These were the things that I needed to read.
(Just wait until I start baking Yeats.)