‘listen girl,’ Medea says, ‘you are
not the first person in the world to
suffer from a broken heart.
but i will treat you like you are.
listen girl. he is not calling out your name.
your name to him is nothing.
it might have been before.
once, your name might have been
the only word he knew when he
was blind sad or bursting with sun.
those days are over.
your name can only exist in your own mouth now.
say it over and over. say it until it doesn’t sound
like a name, but just a sound.
the promises he made you are just sounds now too.
remember that.
your hands are what will hold you together now.
and you want to be mad? be mad.
here is a plate. throw it through his window,
listen to the crack. the shatter. laugh into the night.
call yourself the sun. see, you will rise.
and are you less of a woman for this? no
what is woman?
woman is this – enduring.
listen girl, you will get over this – you will.
but what fool said you had to do it silently?
here is a tip – scream.’

Salma Deera

dreaming minds

February 8, 2019

I imagine poets stitching the world together. Long silver threads of text. Lines prompting reading, dreaming minds not to see everything by itself and separate, but to see the seams often unseen in the dark expanses across space and time. This is, perhaps, a kind of sorcery. A power not to wield, but to hold. To practice holding.

Ellie A. Rogers
Ecotone: Reimagining Place (Fall/winter 2017)

If you have ever stood in a room in front of a painting by Munch, or Van Gogh or Rembrandt for that matter, you will know that part of the painting’s magic is that it brings together its time and yours, its place and yours, and there is comfort in that, because even the distance that is inherent in loneliness is suspended in that moment.

Karl Ove Knausgård
Lecture at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 2016

To me the foggy blur over the tops of trees is a mental affair. You hold in your mind another time and live there in that other imagined time while the present time, new and raw in some way, presses for attention. But the other time is held like a fragile glass, transparent but up close in front of one’s face. This is a practice from childhood. It serves no purpose except to counter the insistence of present time and to block it a bit. I can’t remember when I haven’t done this. Being in two places at one time.

Martha Ronk
Her subject/his subject
Double Room no. 5 – Winter/Spring 2005

Do not laugh! But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen) I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story – the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths – which I could dedicate simply to: to England; to my country. It should possess the tone and quality that I desired, somewhat cool and clear, be redolent of our ‘air’ (the clime and soil of the North West, meaning Britain and the hither parts of Europe: not Italy or the Aegean, still less the East), and, while possessing (if I could achieve it) the fair elusive beauty that some call Celtic (though it is rarely found in genuine ancient Celtic things), it should be ‘high’, purged of the gross, and fit for the more adult mind of a land long now steeped in poetry. I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama. Absurd.

Of course, such an overweening purpose did not develop all at once. The mere stories were the thing. They arose in my mind as ‘given’ things, and as they came, separately, so too the links grew. An absorbing, though continually interrupted labour (especially since, even apart from the necessities of life, the mind would wing to the other pole and spend itself on the linguistics): yet always I had the sense of recording what was already ‘there’, somewhere: not of ‘inventing’. Of course, I made up and even wrote lots of other things (especially for my children). Some escaped from the grasp of this branching acquisitive theme, being ultimately and radically unrelated: Leaf by Niggle and Farmer Giles, for instance, the only two that have been printed. The Hobbit, which has much more essential life in it, was quite independently conceived: I did not know as I began it that it belonged. But it proved to be the discovery of the completion of the whole, its mode of descent to earth, and merging into ‘history’. As the high Legends of the beginning are supposed to look at things through Elvish minds, so the middle tale of the Hobbit takes a virtually human point of view – and the last tale blends them.

J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 131 to Milton Waldman, 1951

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

he inhabits a tiny world

February 8, 2019

Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom fully realize the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors. We realize it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we should be suffocated. The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. I will see what others have invented. Even the eyes of all humanity are not enough. I regret that the brutes cannot write books. Very gladly would I learn what face things present to a mouse or a bee; more gladly still would I perceive the olfactory world charged with all the information and emotion it carries for a dog.

An Experiment in Criticism