I’ve always treasured The Lord of the Rings, both the books and the movies, because they combine my lifelong loves of wizardry and real estate. Now don’t assume that I’m a Gandalf fanboy: he was itinerant, always a bit too grumpy for me, and rather too interested in hanging out with tiny men for my comfort. I prefer Saruman. He seemed to have a lot more fun, and he certainly knew his way around the housing market. Look at Isengard—that place is phenomenal! While his décor was a bit dark and orcish for my tastes, you can’t argue with the stunning architecture. What better place to glide around, commune with dark powers, and practice your version of Cher’s “Believe”? It even has a roof deck, a perfect place to put a grill or a rival wizard. And the view!
Sadly, I wasn’t destined for a life of wizardry—Hogwart’s didn’t have its accreditation yet, and the only thing I can make disappear is a frozen pizza. So I went for the next best thing: poetry. There’s not much of a difference between wizards and poets, actually; both are few in number, insular and cliquish, and given to zany outfits, big gestures, pronouncements, and pretense. It’s not a huge leap from Merlin to Merwin.
Poets and wizards even have similar housing preferences. There’s a long tradition of writers holing up in towers. Friedrich Hölderlin spent the last four decades of his madness-racked life writing very complicated poems in a small tower in Tubingen. Rainer Maria Rilke did his most famous work in a turret of Duino Castle. W. B. Yeats, who really thought he was a wizard, wrote behind the seven-foot thick walls of Thoor Ballylee. Inspired by Yeats, the American poet Robinson Jeffers built Tor House and Hawk Tower on a cliff in Carmel, California. It’s a ridiculous folly, but gorgeous. The tower features a room that he designed specifically to be the setting for his death, with a designated death bed and a window for his final view of the ocean. That is some hard-core poetmagic.
I’ve always desperately wanted to live in a tower. Yes, I understand all of the tired and obvious symbolism: the phallic representation of creativity, pride, and ego. But I don’t care. It would just be cool to live in a tower, to be able to say to folks, “hey, want to come over to the tower and have some pizza rolls?” It doesn’t even have to be a particularly old or large tower; I am very open-minded. I have notebooks and bookmark folders full of classic and contemporary and futuristic designs. I’m considering applying for an NEA grant to fund construction. I don’t think I’ll fully realize my poetic potential until I’m several stories above the ground, hammering out new rhyme schemes while commanding my goblin minions.