The Power of the Written Word

Alexandra - Rancho Mirage, California
Entered on May 28, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in the power of the written word. I fell in love with words in the way that some people fall in love with sciences or music. My enthusiasm for the written word was first stirred with the multitude of books I began reading at an early age. I was ravenous, devouring several books a week. As my mother dragged me along on her daily errands, I learned to rely heavily on my peripheral vision because I constantly had my nose buried in a book as I trailed after her. My pace was always lagging, and I inevitably stumbled into passersby during particularly captivating pages. At a local Target one evening, I took a particularly inattentive step straight into a looming wall of bright pink Barbie boxes just as the heroine of my novel was solving a riddle that would complete her quest.

My taste in books matured as the years passed, and my bookshelves swelled and overflowed with my readings. For as long as I can remember, my parents have kept two huge brown bookshelves. The books were nestled behind glass doors and golden locks. I loved to use my fingertips to brush away the dust that constantly collected on the surface, and then to slowly turn the delicate keys in their locks until I heard the satisfying opening click. I always stole from this treasure. I wondered if my mother secretly sighed over Bronte’s Jane Eyre as I did. I was – and still am – captivated by the written word, in whatever it expresses. Books have swept me away and allowed me to experience adventures, time periods, and other cultures distant to me.

This hunger for reading eventually led me to poetry. In discovering poetry, it became clear that words have the power to evoke and portray a limitless range of emotions. Words can delight, enthrall, and puzzle. Poetry, I decided, is a different manner of thought. I put my French language classes to use when I mulled over Baudelaire’s poems in their original French and found that the English interpretation of each word is an art. The translators endeavored to recreate the same feeling in the English translations. I wanted to harness this power of expression.

Throughout history, the written word has inspired, united, and divided people. It allows us to learn and to communicate our thoughts. We usually assume that what we read is the truth – our newspapers, books, and journals. With this truth comes power. The written word allows the world to connect with one another and share our emotions, beliefs, and knowledge. “The written word,” John Drinkwater asserts, “is everything.”