Samuel J. Tanner 3 minute read

I teach high school English

I teach high school English. So the other day I was reading the final pages of Black Boy by Richard Wright to a group of 11th graders. Here is how Wright finished that book.

I picked up a pencil and held it over a sheet of white paper, but my feelings stood in the way of my words. Well, I would wait, day and night, until I knew what to say. Humbly now, with no vaulting dream of achieving a vast unity, I wanted to try to build a bridge of words between me and that world outside, that world which was so distant and elusive that it seemed unreal.

I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of the hunger for life that gnaws in us all, to keep alive in our hearts a sense of the inexpressibly human” (pp. 383-384).

I cannot think of a better description of what it is to write. I cannot think of a better way to describe why I am trying to figure out how to share the books I have been making with other people.

What else is this website but an attempt to hurl words into the darkness, searching for an echo? Will there be any faint, returning sound?

Hell if I know.

At thirty-three I have no dreams of achieving any sort perfect unity. Those dreams are dead. Instead, I mean to struggle with language towards what Wright describes as the inexpressibly human, that endless sense of hunger for life.

How’s that for borrowing Wright’s poetry?

So echoes be damned, I’ll try and share my writing now.

Humbly now, I want to send my projects out in the world, stand behind who I have been and who I am becoming. I’ll share my words with other struggling to stay alive in the face of whatever faces them.

That seems right.

At thirty-three there can be no hiding from adulthood. Staying alive in the face of adulthood means figuring out how to stay human in the face of terrible circumstances.

Losing my best friend because he decided to put a bullet in his brain was a terrible circumstance. So was finding my mother covered in my stepfather’s blood after he put a bullet in his head. So was spending my childhood cowering from my parents’ addictions, growing up despite them, and figuring out what I was on my own.

Writing became a vehicle for me to deconstruct, understand, and transform my experience in the world. It became a way for me to share the lesson gleaned therein with an audience. It became a way to work towards the description of the inexpressibly human hunger for life, life, and more life.

So that is why you should read my books, look at my website, follow me on Twitter, whatever. Our connection sounds an echo that resounds across an enormous, complicated universe that is far more complex than anybody has yet theorized. And our connected consciousness is as powerful a vehicle in that universe as I have found.

So that, my friends, is an inaugural blog post.