A speech can “possess the power of a moon”
June 09, 2016
A poet recalls the first time he heard Martin Luther King speak. "The man's inflections made me think of waves on the sea."
In an essay in the current New Yorker, the poet Ocean Vuong remembers the first time he heard Martin Luther King speak. He was a fourth-grader, immigrated from Vietnam and a poor reader, hiding from from bullies during his lunch hour in the school library, listening to a cassette, “Great American Speeches”:
Through the headset, a robust male voice surged forth, emptying into my body. The man’s inflections made me think of waves on a sea. Between his sentences, a crowd—I imagined thousands—roared and applauded. I imagined their heads shifting in an endless flow. His voice must possess the power of a moon, I thought …
Speechwriter John Phillips steered us to the piece, with a note, “Think you’ll like this.” Yes, we do.