In 1958 Under the Papal Gun

…of flagged publications and with Edgar Allen proving death the only meat of fiction, my first poem emerged. But Lincoln’s system of free libraries in Illinois allows curiosity the priority it deserves. Upon request, any book in the state was brought to a city library. Flash Jordan, the public high-school librarian, coaxed my senior English teacher to loan me books I hadn’t even heard of. Kafka’s ‘The metamorphosis, Twain’s ‘letters to the Earth,’ and Translations from the Chinese (Wiley 1941), were presented without genuflection. In order for me to read to write.

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