A bit obvious of a choice, maybe, but I love Shakespeare! I didn’t actually read Shakespeare (truly read, not just read a passage here or there to be able to wing a Socratic Seminar in class or whatever) until I graduated college, so I feel (and this haunt is incessant) an acute too-lateness, but Shakes definitely changed me: Shakespeare has taught me more than Life. Suffering through the loss of Desdemona, also, is still one of the seminal literary experiences I’ve had: it’s the first time, I can remember, of being truly devastated by death in a book.

Anna Karenina

My favorite novel. It contains the world in it, every mode, and it’s impossible to truly ever get a full perspective of Anna. She’s beyond our compassing; you read the book and fall in love: which is an incredible gain and an incredible suffering to endure in the contracted life of a read, but Tolstoy gives us that extra life.

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison (Photo by Deborah Feingold/Corbis via Getty Images)

Story time: terribly, terribly afraid of flying, I nonetheless braved a flight to Portland however many years ago AWP-Portland was, and the only thing that helped me on the flight there was ‘Song of Solomon’. ‘Sula’ was the first Morrison I ever read, and is probably still my favorite because of Sula herself, an unforgettable presence, but it was the sublime journey of Milkman that staved off my overwhelming fear and simultaneously taught me as nearly no other character has a skeptical but unfailingly loving heroism of self. I know this inspired heroism of the soul wouldn’t be enough itself to keep the plane up, but in the midst of the Song’s ecstasy death itself couldn’t persuade otherwise that Life fails.

The Oresteia

I first studied Aeschylus in a Political Philosophy course with a Classics professor that the next semester I would learn Homer from, and this trilogy unburied the mythological furies in my being. Later in life ‘Prometheus Bound’ probably has come to be more internally significant because Prometheus is the darling of all spirits, but those first lines of ‘Agamemnon’… I could attribute those lines to the beginning of my life. All my life may, ultimately, be able to be split into ‘Before Aeschylus’ and ‘After’.

Anne Carson

Having no love of Order or chronology I read ‘Red Doc’ before anything else (mainly because it just came out and that was all Barnes and Noble had, in regard of her oeuvre), and such a bouquet of originality! a marvelous springtime of power and thought! The circumspect and incisive dispassion in her work, a voice ever engaged, possessed, lost, authoritative, and bountiful, gives off such a remarkable panoply of Presence in her work: she enacts a tireless drama within where she’s Hades to her Persephone to her Demeter, becoming spring and winter, harvesting and losing all as her whim and wisdom turns.

S. T. Brant is a high school teacher from Las Vegas, and has work in or coming from Door is a Jar, Santa Clara Review, Rain Taxi, New South, Green Mountains Review, Another Chicago Magazine, La Piccioletta Barca, 8 Poems, a few others. He can be reached on Twitter @terriblebinth or Instagram @shanelemagne.

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