From an interview Alice Walker did with The New York Review of Books in 2018.
Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” had a great impact on me as a very young child. It opens with the lines, “If you can keep your head when all about you/ Are losing theirs and blaming it on you” and the last line is, “you’ll be a Man, my son!” Well, I don’t care about the man part, but I did know at that age whenever I heard it, it gave me permission to understand that I can go my own way. I can keep my head and not care what everyone else is doing with their heads, but I need to keep mine. That’s the kind of power that poetry has.