24 All-Star Readers on the Words That Rock Their Worlds
The first poems I ever heard were recited by my mother, who was a schoolteacher in Wilkes County, Georgia. When reciting a poem, she always stood, her arms resting at waist height, fingers interlocked in the same manner as when she sang. Her favorites were the words of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Langston Hughes. She made certain we understood that these were black poets and that the poems we learned at school by Walt Whitman and so forth were good to know and should be learned and recited by heart, yet Mother also wished us to know that there were words that she felt belonged—yes, belonged—to us.