When I decided, desperately, to go into business for myself, some of the books I read said a mentor is needed for success. I don't have a mentor. I don't have a mental image of a mentor. In fact, I was not sure I have a hero or even had one as a kid. But then I remembered... that shoe box, kept in the closet, stuffed with my grade school poetic attempts. Emily Dickinson was a hero, of course. What kid wouldn't respond to "I'm Nobody! Who are you? Are you-- Nobody-- Too?" That's pure candy to a young ear. Also to bring in a Frog. What genius.
There's Rillke's Panther to T.S. Elliot's "I grow old, I grow old, I wear my trousers rolled." That phrase still rattles about in my brain sometimes when I'm thinking and walking home. Generally I don't know much about the personal life of the poets, Baudelaire being an exception. With him I think of his poetic concept, and his decorating his Parisian apartment in opulence on borrowed money. There's Catallus, Ginseberg's reading of Catallus, Shappho, Frost and Yehuda Amichai and his
"Not the peace of cease-fire,
not even the vision of the wolf and the lamb,
as in the heart when the excitement is over
and you can talk only about a great weariness..."
That guy is pure liquid to the soul. Wildpeace. Then there's Bishop's Fish and Silverstein...."If I had wheels instead of feet/ And roses 'stead of eyes/ Then I could drive to the flower show/ And maybe win a prize." And no rambling is complete without Li Po (my favorite ancient oriental inebriate) dancing with the moon and his shadow and writing "only good drinkers can ever gain real fame." Ha! That says it all.
I have a bookcase now... no shoe boxes. I even burned my old stuffed shoe box years ago. It was rather anti-climatic. And not regretted at all (truely bad stuff!) I did it outside, and had to keep stirring the mess as there was too much paper. My advice to anyone thinking on doing such a thing... use starter fluid.
So the first and probably only Shoe Box Award goes to Emily Dickinson who with her poetry established an immediate and personal link through which others' words would also flow. A big round of applause for my hero, Emily Dickinson.