Even if I had wanted to go to college after I graduated from Meriden (CT) High School in 1952, at that point in my life I couldn’t afford it. Furthermore, I was tired of going to school and having other people tell me what I had to study. I was eligible for the draft (the Korean War was going on), and, although I could have put in less time if I had joined the Army, I didn’t want to spend any time at all crawling around in the mud, so I joined the Navy.
This turned out to be a wonderful idea because the Navy taught me how to touch-type, made me a Yeoman – a clerk – rather than a deck hand, shipped me around the country and then, aboard the aircraft carrier Hornet, around the world, quite literally. My friends all were attending college, but I was engaged in the Grand Tour.
In port Yeomen have lots to do, but at sea there is little to keep them busy, so I spent an amazing amount of time taking correspondence courses in fiction writing and journalism, in reading poetry and 100 classic books (there was a fine library aboard), and teaching myself all about the craft of versewriting. I began sending my work out to the little magazines, and I began to publish in 1953, one year after high school.
In 1956 I was released from active duty and just before I entered the University of Connecticut as a sophomore (I had done enough work in the service to have earned advanced placement), I had my first poem accepted by a major literary magazine, The Sewanee Review, which published it in 1959, the year I graduated from UConn, began graduate study there and then, first, spent part of the summer at Yaddo, the artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, New York, and subsequently went to finish my graduate school work in the Writers’ Workshop of the University of Iowa.
This was the poem (listen to Lewis Turco read his poem) "At Home":
Collected in The Green Maces of Autumn: Voices in an Old Maine House, by Lewis Turco, Dresden, ME 04342-0161: Mathom Bookshop, 2002. ISBN 0972271007, paper, $9.95, available from the author. Poems in this volume won both the Cooper House chapbook competition and the Silverfish Review chapbook award. All poems are collected in Fearful Pleasures: The Complete Poems of Lewis Turco 1959-2007, Scottsdale, AZ: www.StarCloudPress.com, 2007. ISBN 978-1-932842-19-7, cloth; ISBN 978-1-932842-20-3, paper. Fearful Pleasures: The Complete Poems, 1959-2007 and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle.