My most inspirational book wasn’t a groundbreaking novel such as “Moby Dick,” “Ulysses” or “100 Years of Solitude,” although each was certainly generationally transformative in its own right and time.
The most inspirational and important book for me was “The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens.” The passing years would make of my copy a billowing, half-destroyed volume, as I spent long hours laboring in service of the enduring mysteries contained within its covers. It was, finally, a redemptive experience, even a spiritual one.
In 1955, someone wrote of his passing: “Wallace Stevens is dead, for even titans must die.” Who cannot read, and read again, poems such as “The Snow Man,” “The Idea of Order at Key West,” “Sunday Morning,” “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” and “The Good Man Has No Shape,” and come away unchanged? Stevens elevated the imagination — and made clear how important it was to honor it.