Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday--April 11, 2010

I have had an ongoing (and quite serious and intense) love affair with words and reading since I was very young.

As a college composition instructor, it is often very challenging to convince students of the benefits of reading and how stories or even essays can save our lives. Most of my students are not English majors and so understandably, they are eager to "get it over with." Sometimes I will see a glimmer of interest in their eyes or an enthusiastic nod. This feeds my hope and passion.

This poem is a fairly accurate account of what I often experience in the classroom.


My freshman students are restless. Only six more minutes of class and several pat their pockets, touch the security of an IPhone or fidget with the strap of a backpack. Ready for flight.

I read a line or two aloud from, say, Henry Miller or Pablo Neruda, maybe a sample bit of Updike. The early pages of Sons and Lovers.

Green as a kiwi, I proclaim the seduction of language. I ask the class: Don’t you wish you had written these words? These words eliminate writer’s block. Jealousy in romance is stupid and destructive. (This proclamation elicits a momentary pause from restlessness.) But as lubricant for our verbal brain machinery, envy is highly effective. Call it literary Viagra. Now they laugh.

Seduction over.

--Catherine Fraga


  1. For me it was a big difference between books I had to read and books I wanted to read. I hardly ever enjoyed reading the books that were in the high-school curriculum. However, later, when it was all my choice, I have enjoyed reading both classical and modern literature. Among my favorites are Dostoyevsky, Ibsen, and Jean Genet. And I like Henry Miller too >:)

  2. Thanks for your comment...I honestly never liked the books I had to read in high school either..but certainly inhaled many OTHER books, the ones I wanted. Graduate school was quite rewarding, though...and I enjoyed so much of what was assigned. I am a huge Henry Miller fan...and also enjoyed George Eliot, Katherine Anne Porter, Wilkie Collins....and on and on..