We ask you to study literature but we never tell you why. You see, it's not just about preparing for college, or fulfilling arbitrary curriculum guidelines. It isn't really for passing a standardized test although by now you must feel like the only reason anyone reads is to score a proficient on a standard of measure. No, reading literature and analyzing it is so much more than just one more chore.. It's kindling a desire to see and be and grasp the secrets of the world, an exploration of what it means to be human, how our minds determine our place amongst the masses, how our humanity is formed and forged and tested. The very thing that sets us apart from other animals is our ability to think rationally and logically; we ponder our own existences in ways other creatures cannot. Literature, our miraculous expression and recording of ourselves, is our communal expression of this thing named life, a call and song to our fellow ponderers of life, to not just experience but question what it means, to cast our stories like silk threads so that they catch another, and a connection is made.
When you read and write not just because it’s worth points or because the teacher tells you to or guilts you into it—when you really read, see the way time means nothing to the ways of the human heart, when 400 years does not make you different, when you suddenly realize, I mean truly understand that all those thousands of decisions by thousands of people, whether related to you or not—all those moments added up to today, to here, to you. When you get that and you become an intricate part of this fabric—that is what you should strive for, should be fueled by. Not grade points. Not a chance to waste time, to scoff at what suddenly takes too much energy, to complete assignments as if they are nothing more than an obstacle instead of an opportunity. To live is to exude energy, to seek, to discover, to be curious. As John Keating states in one of my favorite movies of all time, Dead Poets Society, “We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” Find that, please. Remember this as we move through the year.
For this is what literature has to give.
Lynne Reeder is a mother, teacher, and lifelong reader. She's been penning poems and stories since she first learned to spell words. Her works appear in many online journals and other publications, and she received the title of Poet Laureate for hometown in 2016. She spends her time squeezing in writing drafts of her works around wrangling her two daughters and impulsive pitbull. She's been lucky enough to find love early, marrying her high school sweetheart Brandon, with whom she has been for over half of her life. She loves all kinds of tea, witnessing the moment a student discovers a new talent, and recognizing the infinite in the everyday. She hopes you enjoy her words as much as she thrives on creating them.