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This week at The Paris Review, we’re in the library stacks. Read on for Ishmael Reed’s Art of Poetry interview, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s short story “Two Sisters,” and Tom Disch’s poem “The Library of America.”
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Ishmael Reed, The Art of Poetry No. 100
Issue no. 218 (Fall 2016)
When I came back to Buffalo, I dropped out of school. I was seventeen. My plan was to stay home and read plays but my mother said, You’ve got to get a job, so I worked at a library and that’s where I first read James Baldwin. I think it was Notes of a Native Son. It stopped me cold. I had never seen a black guy that could do this. When I was a child, I thought literature was written by lords and knights and stuff. You know, these people living in these great estates wearing beautiful clothes. Baldwin showed me something different. Then I discovered Dante, man. That really turned me on. My parents thought I had lost my mind.