When he sees me he waves an arm, flicks a wrist, and utters strange phrases. He must be at least twelve years old. His thin-rimmed glasses constantly threaten to slide off his nose and his sandy brown hair defies a comb. The boy is a devoted fan of Harry Potter, and for reasons I do not know, he casts a curse my direction when our paths cross. As he grows up, his love for the wizarding world might cool. For now, it burns white-hot.
One of the most universal human impulses can be summed up in the four words, “Tell me a story” – Leland Ryken (2000, Windows to the World)
As we have developed new technologies, we’ve used different forms- from fireside tales to films- to tell our stories. Yet, one form of storytelling deserves a central place in our lives: creative prose and verse.
A morning at the grocery store or a wait at the doctor’s office reveal the abundance of blue-lit screens projecting pixels at us. Recent digital innovations have changed the way we play, read, watch, work, and build relationships, to the point that one commentator has called this the “age of digital addiction” (“Digital Fatigue” Publisher’s Weekly, Oct. 2016). Digital media have crept into spaces once occupied by poetry, short stories, and novels; this digital media monster casts a growing shadow over literature and steals our time, including our students’ time in composition classrooms, where interest in reading is disappearing altogether (ibid). In short, the blue allure of the screen means that watching is eclipsing reading. Written literature needs defending, and one of the best places to begin is by remembering its value.