Old Email From May, 2000 (pertaining to the book).

At my readings, people are always asking me how things began to turn, what changed, how I went from angry and violent to what I am now.  A teacher, a father, a husband.  And happy.

So I tell them about the three women who helped me when I was eighteen and nineteen:

Bonita Stahlberg – My English teacher at the end of high school

Dorianne Laux – My poetry professor at U of O

Pris Wilt – My second mother.

The following is an email I sent to Pris in May of 2000, eleven years ago, when I was just about to finish college at the age of 23.  It’s interesting to think that I hadn’t considered writing the book yet, let alone talking publicly about what an important person Pris was in my life.

She just sent this to me last month, and it underscores her importance to me, to the change that took place.  So I decided to post the email:

Dear Wilts,
What can I say?  Without your kindness at the end of my terrible stint in high school, I might not have gone to college.  Certainly not right away.  I credit you guys with  helping me get my life together.
Pris, do you remember the time we talked out on the back porch at the 2460 house?  It was a warm late spring evening, and we talked as you smoked. You told me how you saw my life as contrasts of black and white and that I seemed to feel that all or nothing was the only way I could live.  I bring up that moment, that breath in my life, because it was one of the first times of understanding my adult self.  You understood me better than I did, and had the courage to speak your mind.  I really respect you for that.


One thought on “Old Email From May, 2000 (pertaining to the book).

  1. I am bit older “vintage”, having graduated from high school in 1968, but the things you write about are timeless. There have always been bullies and people who have been picked on and trodden under foot others; i am one of those. I wasn’t as “creative” as you with the weapons, but i probably would have enjoyed at least thinking about “eviscerating” someone, even if it was only in my imagination. I reacted in one of the ways people do who have few or no friends….build a shell so the “bombs” of the wicked do not penetrate….or at least don’t appear to. You make great points about video games and the “numbing” of the senses; the blur of reality and gaming. I see it in my boys who don’t seem to mind shooting up a large number of bodies, as long as they are the enemy. And who is the enemy? I believe Pogo summed it up when he said, “I have met the enemy and he is us.” Thank you for being brave enough to say the truth even when everyone around you refuses to notice.


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