|Aerobee launch in Fort Churchill|
We were an unlikely pair because neither Neil nor I had any literary experience – no “creative writing” classes or anything resembling them; nor had we published anything, though I had been collecting a sizeable number of form rejections. Neil had had a revered English teacher at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School, Miss Casey, who introduced him to poetry, which spurred him to take a course in college in which Laurence Perrine’s Sound and Sense was a major text. He was far ahead of me: I had one modern lit class and remember our professor bringing in a record of T.S. Eliot reading “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock,” which I was entranced by – its laconic music alone – I had no clue about understanding it, at least in the way I thought I was supposed to. My interests were in fiction and I imagined myself writing stories and novels into the night – I had come on Thomas Wolfe at the right time. But I wasn’t finishing stories or when I did, they felt static. It turned out I wasn’t interested in plot or conflict but I lingered on sentences themselves, on images, and metaphor. I soon found myself turning to poems, the style and forms based on what I knew from high school and the little I had learned in college.