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Eudora Welty

1909–2001
Eudora Welty at home in Jackson, Mississippi, 1988. (Ulf Andersen/Getty Images)

Major works:
“A Worn Path” • “Why I Live at the P.O.” • “Clytie” • “Petrified Man” • “Where Is the Voice Coming From?” • The Golden ApplesLosing BattlesThe Optimist’s DaughterOne Writer’s Beginnings

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One Writer's Beginnings

Eudora Welty

Learning stamps you with its moments. Childhood’s learning is made up of moments. It isn’t steady. It’s a pulse.
In a children’s art class, we sat in a ring on kindergarten chairs and drew three daffodils that had just been picked out of the yard; and while I was drawing, my sharpened yellow pencil and the cup of the yellow daffodil gave off whiffs just alike. That the pencil doing the drawing should give off the same smell as the flower it drew seemed part of the art lesson—as shouldn’t it be? Children, like animals, use all their senses to discover the world. Then artists come along and discover it the same way, all over again. Here and there, it’s the same world. Or now and then we’ll hear from an artist who’s never lost it.
In my sensory education I include my physical awareness of the word. Of a certain word, that is; the connection it has with what it stands for. At around age six, perhaps, I was standing by myself in our front yard waiting for supper, just at that hour in a late summer day when the sun is already below the horizon and the risen full moon in the visible sky stops being chalky and begins to take on light. There comes the moment, and I saw it then, when the moon goes from flat to round. For the first time it met my eyes as a globe. The word “moon” came into my mouth as though fed to me out of a silver spoon. Held in my mouth the moon became a word. It had the roundness of a Concord grape Papa took off his vine and gave me to suck out of its skin and swallow whole, in Ohio.

Read a passage from One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty
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