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"I believe, as many writers do, that there are touchstone moments in literature—poetry, fiction, and plays—that spark the imagination. So here are a couple of personal inspirations:
"(1) The scene in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse in which Mrs. Ramsay despairs while sitting in Cam's room as she sleeps. She is the center of the novel's 'galaxy,' she is the heart. But unknown to her husband and children, who rely on her, she sits in the steadily recurring beam of the St. Ives lighthouse and wonders why people fall in love and why they have children, when all are doomed to die. It is the most devastating lyrical moment.
"(2) 'He Is More Than a Hero' is one of the many poem fragments by Sappho which always stir me. It provides a description of the physicality of being in love—how the heart races, the tongue is tied—as thrilling and accurate as if Sappho were speaking to us in this moment and not the sixth century BCE."
—Carol Muske-Dukes, author of Channeling Mark Twain (Random House, 2007)