Today many people will be writing tributes to Lawrence Ferlinghetti and with good reason. He was an amazing poet, founder of the Beat movement, founder of City Lights bookstore, publisher. What an amazing life, and how fortunate that he lived to be 101.
But today I am feeling the deep loss of Octavia Butler, who died 15 years ago today. I've written about her often, it feels like. But there's a reason for that--she wrote her most important work decades ago, and it feels more relevant now than it did when I first read it, decades ago.
Consider this passage from Parable of the Talents, published in 1998:"Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be lied to.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery." (p. 167)