The power of words | Teen Ink

The power of words

November 4, 2009
By Joseph Leogrande BRONZE, Auburn, New York
Joseph Leogrande BRONZE, Auburn, New York
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

In reflecting on the events of my life that have impacted me, I returned to the night of August 1, 2006. I found myself in Row G of Radio City Music Hall in New York City sitting by my mother, not at all tired, although we had flown from Las Vegas to Syracuse the day before, and my family had driven five hours to the city for “An Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp,” a charity event with readings by three authors. The excitement rushing through me kept me awake and alert; I was standing and applauding a tiny blonde woman with amazing silver snake shoes as she prepared to read.

The Harry Potter series was my gateway drug into my intellectual puberty. I was so fascinated by the Harry Potter world that my mother began taking me to academic conferences focused on the books. Beginning with The Witching Hour in 2005, through Lumos, Prophecy, Portus, and Azkatrz in 2009, I have attended presentations about the Latin etymology of terms and spells, the mythical tales of the artifacts, and the idea of literary alchemy. These books opened my eyes to the whole world, and to knowledge itself. They were the stimulus that kept my brain working over the summers. More importantly, they helped me adopt the philosophy useful in school and beyond, that there is always another way to do something, or to perceive an issue. With uncertainty and doubt, comes innovation and new ways to look at problems that may result in new, different, faster and easier solutions. And all this came from a little “magic,” from a book that many people see as a series for children.

Along with fans and students from many countries, I attended lectures about Ms. Rowling’s ability to beautifully craft the saga, with every painstakingly small detail connected to something else. For example, Dr. John Granger, a “Potter Pundit” who has written several critical and religious-based analyses of the books, reminded the audience that Harry’s (and his mother Lily’s) green eyes owe a literary debt to Dante’s Beatrice. From Jonathan Swift to Chaucer to Dickens and Austin, I learned that like all great books, Rowling’s stories fostered a connection across mind, body, and soul. Although the series has been criticized by those who believe it corrupts children and teaches witchcraft, I was able to hear discussions by those who purported that, like the Bible, these books teach wonderful messages if one goes beyond the literal level to the allegorical. It is my generation’s shared text; all college freshmen are familiar with the stories, and that gives us a set of common beliefs and ideas that can serve as a springboard to new learning.

As I sat surrounded by avid fans and scholars of John Irving, Steven King, and J.K. Rowling, it gave me hope that this country will not be consumed by the mundane. With so much emphasis on physical aspects of life, and the material and sexual focus of the messages thrown at us by the media, it would be easy to become jaded or depressed. But I am not worried. I have been surrounded by 6000 people, all of whom paid good money, not for a sporting event or a concert, but to hear authors read their work. I have evidence that words on a page can change not only my life, but the world.

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This article has 157 comments.

b00kw0rm4 GOLD said...
on Dec. 8 2016 at 1:42 pm
b00kw0rm4 GOLD, Sacramento, California
10 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be who you wanna be..... don't let people's opinion control the best of you.

Wow! I read Harry Potter and it made me want to read more other books.I love this!

Wamnimwa said...
on Oct. 2 2013 at 9:47 am
Wamnimwa, Reykjavík, Other
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
Harry Potter changed my life, without doubt. It‘s helped me through basically everything,  and I agree with you on all accounts. I live in Iceland, where there aren‘t any opportunities to go to conferences, or stuff like that, but I wish I could. Harry Potter (and every other book) has the power to change someone. The way you describe everything is amazing, and it‘s well written, just a few misspelled names. 

Alani BRONZE said...
on Jul. 7 2013 at 5:54 pm
Alani BRONZE, Sydney, Other
2 articles 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
Soit belle, faire le bien, soit heureux ~

I love this!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chiron said...
on Jul. 4 2013 at 8:03 am
This is definitely an interesting essay. I liked the way you presented your point, although I have to say that your ending fell flat. Also there are two corrections: In the last paragraph, Stephen King is misspelt as 'Steven King'. Also, I believe when talking of the authors in the third paragraph, you meant Jane Austen. Spelling it as 'Austin', in addition to the previous error, casts a dubious light on the authenticity of the essay. Alternatively it shows that you weren't diligent about editing your essay. In either case, these seemingly minor things tell a college admissions officer a lot about you, so do be careful. And good luck.

RainbowChild said...
on May. 27 2013 at 10:01 pm
RainbowChild, Svannah, Georgia
0 articles 0 photos 36 comments

Favorite Quote:
Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.
-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

i was reading another essay that was much more pompous, long winded, and boring as this one but every one seemed to like it and even the editorial staff found it quit engaging. i find it odd that only you wold find it that this person is not being themselves while not one person thought that of the author who wrote the other article

newsie said...
on Feb. 13 2013 at 10:05 pm
I think this is a great essay.  It shows the intellectual curiosity of the writer-- something colleges are looking for when screening applicants.  

Brie M said...
on Nov. 6 2012 at 4:56 pm
I think that all of you are taking the comment too personally. The essay does come off as a little fake to me. I dont think that the original commenter was trying to say that you should dumb down your essay but rather that you should just be yourself. Don't saturate you essay with facny vocab, colleges want to know you not a thesaurus. 

on Sep. 17 2012 at 11:26 am
mia.juliana BRONZE, Memphis, Tennessee
1 article 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.” - Stephen King

Great essay!  Only thing I have to say is..  "Steven" King is spelled Stephen King.   Only thing I'd change!

jimmy bean said...
on Sep. 6 2012 at 11:12 am

on Aug. 21 2012 at 10:18 am
That_BookaholicGirl, Boston, Massachusetts
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
I'm not telling you it's going to be easy, I'm telling you it's going to be worth it.

So she writes "jk" at the end of her comment which in text talk means "just kidding". So does this mean she means the opposite of everything she wrote in her comment? 

on Aug. 21 2012 at 10:15 am
That_BookaholicGirl, Boston, Massachusetts
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
I'm not telling you it's going to be easy, I'm telling you it's going to be worth it.

I am 17 and I had no problems reading this essay. I didn't even realize there were "big words" until I read this comment. Why should someone have to dumb down their essay because it doesn't seem "their age'? if it's who they are and how they write. I thought the whole point of a college essay was to be yourself. 

rachdav said...
on Aug. 18 2012 at 9:51 pm
I went to this book reading too!!!! 

sdf sdf said...
on Jun. 14 2012 at 12:14 am
sdf sdf, Sdf, Colorado
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
not constructive

sdf sdf said...
on Jun. 14 2012 at 12:12 am
sdf sdf, Sdf, Colorado
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
thx for teh lowercase i

on May. 29 2012 at 3:26 pm
BloglessBlogger GOLD, Somerset, California
10 articles 1 photo 67 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't let the fear of striking out keep keep you from playing the game."

Great! I feel the same way about the books from J.K. Rowling, she had enough bravery to try something that is easily criticized... She can write and so can you

on Apr. 29 2012 at 9:12 am
overexposed PLATINUM, Davie, Florida
27 articles 0 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
When you compare the sorrows of real life to the pleasures of the imaginary one, you will never want to live again, only to dream forever.

My only critique would be to include some specific examples of how Harry Potter changed your life; I lose that theme somewhere along the way. Great writing, though! Keep it up!


fakku said...
on Mar. 2 2012 at 7:29 am

how to make an essay


Hilidan SILVER said...
on Feb. 1 2012 at 10:42 am
Hilidan SILVER, Istanbul, Other
5 articles 0 photos 52 comments
Wow! You wrote it very well and how Harry Potter gave a different way to your life. :D

on Jan. 6 2012 at 11:39 pm
expressionconfession GOLD, Cooper City, Florida
16 articles 0 photos 7 comments
harry potter rocks, as does the heart of this idea however, keep in mind that it's not a book review, it's a YOU review :) hp is a great springboard for delving into personal experiences & applications of the mindset you adopted from the books, but i didn't see as much of that as i'd have liked to

hey sunny said...
on Nov. 26 2011 at 3:39 am
Very nice I like it.You have told about Harry potter changed you life is was nice. I like it.