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S. A. J. Lyttek, a multiple award-winning writer, always loved writing, but didn’t arrive at the profession in the typical manner. After college and graduate school, she plunged into government consulting. In this environment, she discovered a knack for writing tests, interviews and other measurements. That soon became the focus of her career—reigniting her love for the written word. Thus captivated, she spent evenings freelancing “fun” writing including short stories, poems, articles and cards. When her eldest was a toddler, she quit full-time work to stay home and write. Eager to spend more time with her children, homeschooling intrigued her. From preschool through high school, she homeschooled both sons while continuing to freelance. An integral part of the homeschooling community, she has developed and taught writing classes to a generation of homeschoolers. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Gary, Mrs. Lyttek loves to share her commitment to homeschoolers and her fascination with the written word.

My Favorite Poet

2/13/2019 8:11:00 PM BY Susan Lyttek

As this is the week of Valentine’s Day (my least favorite holiday, to be honest), I thought giving a tribute to my favorite poet was appropriate. After all, people tend to think of romantic verse along with the chocolates and flowers.

In the mid-eighties, I won a radio contest. It was one of those things where you had to guess the song by like five notes. What does that have to do with poetry? Well, the prize was a bunch of records from an assortment of Christian rock groups. On one of those albums, the lyrics of a song intrigued me. They were so compelling and poetic. And for good reason. The song actual quoted a historical poet.

That’s how I became acquainted with William Blake and his work. I will forever be grateful to the group Daniel Amos (a.k.a. D.A. or DA) for writing and singing a tribute to him.

I devoured Blake’s poems. They were and are so different from those of his contemporaries such as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron or Shelley. While they used traditional forms to explore contemporary issues, Blake pretty much invented his own forms to explore eternal issues. Because he didn’t write what was popular, he received a lot of criticism and had to make a living as an engraver. That visual talent, I am convinced, helped him capture images without a lot of words. He could seize the essential details. Poetry is by nature, terse. Blake made it even more so.

And also because Blake did not write what was popular, but rather what was on his heart—good or bad—his work captured the honesty of a fallible human life. In this, I particularly liked the companion Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. The two volumes took the opposing views of life. In a sense, it captured the essence of people and creation before and after the fall of Adam and Eve. Within the two he juxtaposed the innocence of the lamb (or the Lamb) and the ferocity of the tiger. It is that second poem, Tyger, that still ranks as the most read and most requested poem in the English language.

His fallibility has also garnered him a lot of criticism over the years. The Daniel Amos song alluded to that and made me curious about him in the first place. Blake did, for a while, fall prey to a false teacher. To be honest, I have too. The thing is, if you are in Christ, and study the Word, that will eventually become clear… as it did for him.

So what do I want you to take from this? Well, first, read poetry. I make all my writing students read Tyger. But also look for your favorite, what resonates with you. The Introduction to the Songs of Innocence made me tear up the first time I read it—and it still does.

There’s a lot of wonderful verse out there to choose from!