Writer’s Quote Wednesday // Reginald Shepherd

Hello and happy Wednesday day to you all! Congratulations on making it to the halfway point, it’s all downhill from here. To help you get through the rest of the way I encourage you to check out Writer’s Quote Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Colleen at Silver Threading. Each Wednesday bloggers showcase their favorite quotes to inspire and motivate us to keep on writing.

My contribution for this week is from the late poet Reginald Shepherd.

Born in New York City in 1963 Reginald grew up in the Bronx. He earned a BA from Bennington College and studied at Brown University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In his last year at the University of Iowa, he received the “Discovery” prize from the 92nd Street Y, and his first collection, Some Are Drowning

He was the author of five volumes of poetry—Some are Drowning; Angel, Interrupted; Wrong; Otherhood; and Fata Morgana—and a volume of essays, Orpheus in the Bronx: Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry.

He edited two anthologies, The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries and Lyric Postmodernisms: An Anthology of Contemporary Innovative Poetries.

His work has also been widely anthologized, including in four editions of The Best American Poetry and two Pushcart Prize anthologies.

The poet Marilyn Hacker has described Shepherd as:

“brilliant and elegiac … a writer always conscious of the shadowy borders where myth and history—his own and Western civilization’s—mingle. Those borders, classical and contemporary, are the true location of Shepherd’s poems, and his newest work crosses and recrosses them, excavates their sites, finds the evidence of the poem at every stratum.”

His honors and awards include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, the Florida Arts Council, and the Guggenheim Foundation. His 2008 book of essays, Orpheus in the Bronx, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism.

Shepherd died, after a long and painful battle with cancer, on September 10, 2008.

He kept a blog the last couple of years of his life.

“I write because I want to live forever. The fact of my future death offends me.”

— Reginald Shepherd

There are many reasons why I write. In the front of my my mind I write to share my story, I write to inspire others to think, and I write to make a small positive change in the world. Deep down though, I think the real reason I write, the real reason any of us write, is in protest against the inevitability of our impending deaths.

I think about death a lot. I believe it builds character to face your mortality on a regular basis. Despite this I haven’t exactly accepted my fate. I cannot get past the anger and frustration of the unfairness of death. There is so much more I want to see and do but I won’t, I will be dead. The best I can hope for, the best any of us can hope for is, to make some kind of imprint on history.

We want to leave behind evidence that we were here.

I think writing is the best way to accomplish this. If your words can survive then so can you, in a way. It’s the only way you can live on and continue to interact and change the world long after you are gone. The trick is to write something that other people will want to keep alive. You have to write something that will awaken and excite the minds of people who will live decades after your death.

It’s easier said then done, but that is why writing is something we all have to do day in and day out.

It is your life’s work.

Quote found via The Academy of American Poets Facebook Page

Original image via Flickr


7 Replies to “Writer’s Quote Wednesday // Reginald Shepherd”

  1. Yes, this. So much this. I mean, on the face of it I write because it’s one of the few things I’m good at, but the motivation is to leave something behind after I’ve died.

    Great choice, this.


    1. Glad you liked it! It’s nice to hear that someone else agrees. I am pretty much obsessed with leaving something behind, if for no one else but my own family and their kids. I want them to know who I was and hopefully impart some of my wisdom. I don’t believe in an intrinsic meaning of life, but this is the meaning of mine.

      Thanks for reading :)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that is the single greatest thing about being a writer. I also read somewhere that loving a writer guarantees the same immortality, which I like to remind my girlfriend of all the time :)

      Liked by 1 person

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