“I grew up a word-haunted boy” by Pat Conroy

“I grew up a word-haunted boy. I felt words inside me and stored them wondrous as pearls. I mouthed them and fingered them and rolled them around my tongue.

My mother filled my bedtime hour with poetry that rang like Sanctus bells as she praised the ineffable loveliness of the English language with her Georgia-scented voice. I found that hive of words beautiful beyond all conveyance.

They clung to me and blistered my skin and made me happy to be alive in the land of crape myrtle, spot-tailed bass, and eastern diamondbacks. The precise naming of things served as my entryway into art.

The whole world could be sounded out. I could arrange each day into a tear sheet of music composed of words as pretty as flutes or the tail feathers of peacocks.

From my earliest memories, I felt impelled to form a unique relationship with the English language. I used words to fashion a world that made sense to me.”

–Pat Conroy, My Reading Life, (New York: Doubleday, 2010), 84.

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