The writers who visit you in class, when you’re still a student—especially if you’re young and impressionable—these writers stick with you for a lifetime.
I recall vividly a visit from Dana Gioia to my undergrad poetry class, then his reading afterward, and handing him a book to sign. I thought there was no person more intrinsically a writer, so thoroughly in his being and essence someone who loved words. He was nothing less than a prophet.
In her essay for Glimmer Train, Marian Palaia describes Barry Hannah, a writer who made a dramatic impression on her. She writes,
The way I saw it then and still see it today: Barry was blindly in love with everyone and everything, and words are what he loved most of all, and they are what he had with which to express his love. He didn’t hedge his bets, and the sentences he fashioned—those holy, celestial, bonkers sentences—oh my god. As Wells Tower put it after Barry died, “He wouldn’t leave a sentence alone until he’d electrified every word… After Hannah, you couldn’t let yourself write a ‘Then he picked up a coffee cup’ sort of sentence ever again.”
Read more from Palaia: Words, and Barry Hannah, the Guy Who Taught Me to Love Them.
Also in this month’s Glimmer Train bulletin: