When you learn to read at age 3, it makes it much simpler to get on the fast track to national literary awards by age 15.
At least that’s how it worked for L.M. Montgomery (Lucy Maud for short).
Some people will say that reading keeps them alive. Let’s imagine that’s what happened with the young Montgomery: living in a home with storytellers and poets (and wall to wall books) helped her fight off the effects of typhoid fever that nearly took her life at the age of 5. She would get up from her sick bed in a house filled with words and go on as a teenager to win the Canada prize sponsored by the local Montreal Witness newspaper.
Montgomery wrote 20 novels over the course of her life, along with hundreds of short stories and poems. It was her magazine essays that helped establish her as a writer long before she was able to get a book published. Montgomery’s fiction, much of it revolving around the character of Anne Shirley who made her debut in Anne of Green Gables, allowed her to speak her mind in ways that, considering the times, would not otherwise have been possible, especially for a woman. Perhaps there is a little hint of that in a comment from Mr. Harrison (a character in Anne of Avonlea), when he said, “She can put a whole sermon, text, comment, and application, into six words, and throw it at you like a brick.”
Anne of Avonlea follows on Anne of Green Gables and tells the story of Anne, now supposedly becoming a responsible member of adult society. Here are 10 delightful quotes from the story:
“Better leave it alone, Anne, that’s what. People don’t like being improved.”
“I shall govern by affection, Mr. Harrison.”
“Isn’t it something to have started a soul along a path that may end in Shakespeare and Paradise Lost?”
“I detest that woman more than anybody I know. She can put a whole sermon, text, comment, and application, into six words, and throw it at you like a brick.”
Anne Shirley: “If you had three candies in one hand and two in the other, how many would you have altogether?”
Lottie: “A mouthful.”
“Everything that’s worth having is some trouble.”
“It is not every day one sees a soul…even of a poem.”
“I’ve prayed every night that God would give me enough grace to enable me to eat every bit of my porridge in the mornings. But I’ve never been able to do it yet, and whether it’s because I have too little grace or too much porridge I really can’t decide.”
“I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
“I suppose that’s how it looks in prose. But it’s very different if you look at it through poetry.”
Photo by Derek Gavey, Creative Commons via Flickr.
How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland
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