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APRIL IS POETRY MONTH: Franz Wright's 'Learning to Read'
Learning to Read
If I had to look up every fifth or sixth word
so what. I looked them up.
I had nowhere important to be.
My father was unavailable, and my mother
looked like she was about to break,
and not into blossom, each time I spoke.
My favorite was The Iliad. True,
I had trouble pronouncing the names;
but when was I going to pronounce them, and
My stepfather maybe?
Number one, he could barely speak English -
two, he had sufficient cause
to smirk or attack
without prompting from me.
Loneliness boredom and fear
I get down on my knees and thank God for them.
Du Fu, the Psalms, Whitman, Rilke.
Life has taught me
to understand books.
More on this poem and author:
- Click here to learn more about Franz Wright's F.
- Browse other titles by Franz Wright.
- Visit our Tumblr to share this poem and peruse other poems, audio recordings, and broadsides in our Knopf Poem-a-Day series.
- This year we're hosting a contest called "Portray Your Love of Poetry." Submit your entry!
Excerpt from F. Copyright (c) 2013 by Franz Wright. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, LLC., New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.