Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Literary Genius

My senior year of high school I nearly failed English. My teacher wasn't very effective when it came to helping me with my technical difficulties. I have always been a master orator but writing is something I will always have to work on. I have great ideas but they don't translate well on paper. To make matters worse I was also a very slow reader, I ponder on every single word. I'm not sure where that orginated given that I started reading at 3 yrs old and spent my entire summers in the library.

This particular teacher, whose name I cannot currently recall, was very boring and didn't make AP English palatable in anyway. After I figured out I might not pass I just started sleeping in my car during her class and I would just do the assignments on my own.

Towards the end of the semester she assigned Richard Wright's "Native Sun" I read most of it but it is a pretty long novel and there just wasn't enough time to read it that week.

I had to write a paper on it and since I didn't finish reading it I just made it up. At the time I didn't know all that had befallen Bigger Thomas. If I had access to the internet I could have looked like a literary genius. The teacher was well aware that I didn't finish the book and gave me a D. I didn't care because she was easily the worst teacher I ever had.

Since then I have read almost all of Richard Wright's work, a literary genius. A few years ago I donated all my books by black authors to a high school here in DC. It was hard to give them up but I hoped that a student with an ineffective English teacher might pick up his work. Several times since then I have thought out repurchasing all of Mr. Wrights works. However, I opt for a contemporary work everytime.

In Oregon I found myself in a used bookstore as I was browsing I ran across a hardback copy of both Black Boy and Native Sun. I believe they were both original pressings. It felt good to have them both in my possession again. I'm thankful that I didn't let one person stop me from discovering great literature. I'm hopeful that some student in Anacostia high school will discover the same.


Anonymous said...

I love Richard Wright, too. I discovered him and John Edgar Wideman around the same time. And James Baldwin...don't get me started, they're all great.

rashad said...

The English major in me cringed when you said you almost failed..but you brought it home towards the end. I need to re-read Native Son.

A Well Destined Child said...

I enjoyed this posting.

no said...

I failed AP English.

Now I teach college English.

My AP English teachers was horrendous.