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Roy Peter Clark on baseball caps, baldness and the importance of childhood reading

Bill DeYoung



Roy Peter Clark’s latest Catalyst Session included a discussion of baseball caps – he owns more than 50 of them. The caps not only keep the sun off his face and out of his eyes, they protect his bald head, which he describes as a “polar icecap” when the air conditioning blows down, and a no-fault necessity during Zoom calls like The Catalyst Sessions “because I don’t want you to be distracted by the reflection off my head.”

He then read the “Readers Digest version” of his recent Tampa Bay Times column about his cap collection.

This was bookended by a more serious back-and-forth about the importance of reading to children, which the longtime Poynter Institute writing instructor said was a key factor in shaping his own views of the world.

“My life would absolutely not be the same, or as good, if it were not for those books and the authors of those books,” Clark explained.

“There’s a theory of reading: The author creates the text, but the reader turns it into a poem. Or a story. Or a report. I, when I write my column, create a text, but the reader brings, through the act of reading, his or her own autobiography.”

The theory – ascribed to literature professor Louise Rosenblatt – describes a triangle consisting of writer, text and reader. “What it means is, if I re-read something, I have a measuring stick of how I’ve changed.”

As always, the interview was a blend of serious conversation and bad jokes.


Today on The Catalyst Sessions: Playwright Rachel Lynett, whose Letters to Kamala is being produced virtually by American Stage. The theater’s Stephanie Gularte will also join us.

Streaming at 7 p.m. weekdays on the Catalyst Facebook page. All episodes are archived on our YouTube channel.




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