The Big Read Blog (Archive)

WHY DO I READ?

February 10, 2009
Washington, DC

Familiar to most Big Readers as NEA Director of Research and Analysis thanks to reports like To Read or Not To Read, Sunil Iyengar is also a practicing poet and a charter member of our we-have-to-figure-out-how-to-meet-more-than-once-in-a-blue-moon poetry workshop here at the NEA. Here?s Sunil?s response to the title question . . .

"Was there ever a time when I could read but not write? I am aware -- I often have maintained -- that the art of writing is one of mimesis. We start by copying models, if not literally, then to a degree that becomes apparent later. We pay homage to what moves us, and seek to reproduce the effect in words. But go back to the first time, my amazement at reading without moving my lips. (I was three years old. The book: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig.) There was no division here, between reading and writing. To create was happily to construe."

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