AT HOME: A POEMOIR
As soon as I graduated from Meriden High School in 1952 I joined the Navy for two main reasons: Because I was eligible for the draft (the Korean War was going on), and I was sick of going to school and having other people tell me what I had to study. Even if I had wanted to go to college at that point in my life I couldn’t afford it, so I volunteered for the armed service to get the G. I. Bill eventually. I could have put in less time if I had joined the Army, but 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 and went for grad school out to the Writers’ Workshop of the University of Iowa. This was the poem (listen to Lewis Turco read his poem) "At Home"
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. Also available in a Kindle edition.