Train Window

February 25, 2020

Small towns
Crawling out of their green shirts…
Tubercular towns
Coughing a little in the dawn…
And the church…
There is always a church
With its natty spire
And the vestibule—
That’s where they whisper:
Tzz-tzz… tzz-tzz… tzz-tzz…
How many codes for a wireless whisper—
And corn flatter than it should be
And those chits of leaves
Gadding with every wind?
Small towns
From Connecticut to Maine:
Tzz-tzz… tzz-tzz…tzz-tzz…

Lola Ridge

calls me a dominatrix

February 25, 2020

I hate being tied up. But I looove tying my boyfriend up. He calls me a dominatrix to tease me. We have a paddle and everything. It’s fun! — Hannah, 26

Holly Riordan
Women Reveal How They Really Feel About Bondage

creating worlds

February 25, 2020

All fiction is about creating worlds, of course, and each of these worlds is distinctive, personal. Take Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens. Their versions of Victorian England are quite different, even when they’re talking about the same kinds of thing. Dotheboys Hall in ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ and ‘Lowood Institution’ in Jane Eyre are both highly unpleasant schools – both even contain abused, tubercular pupils who befriend the main character and later die in their arms – but they inhabit totally different fictional universes. You can’t imagine taking a journey from Bleeding Heart Yard to Thornfield Hall. Mr Rochester’s mad wife is no Miss Havisham. And no matter how I try, I can’t imagine Jane Eyre meeting Mr Micawber.

So all fiction is about creating worlds – but fantasy writers come straight out and admit it. We don’t even try to deceive you. How could we? You know that unicorns and dragons, werewolves and vampires, orcs and trolls and elves, do not exist and never have existed. So what’s the point of it all? Why on earth do we write it? Why do some of you – quite a lot of you, actually – want to read it?

Surely because fantasy is no more and no less a pack of lies than any other type of fiction. Or to put it the other way around, the truths of good fantasy are exactly the same as the truths of all good fiction: emotional truths about characters, about situations, about life.

Katherine Langrish
creating worlds

fantastical wonder

February 25, 2020

As we grow older, we are discouraged from playing make believe, are told to prepare for the “real world,” and forced to adapt by relegating wonder to the nursery, or, as is the case for many, to a private hobby (thanks, Richard Dawkins). Those that don’t appear to long for fantastical wonder find wonder in other ways: such as the baby-crazy teenager who ogles pictures of newborns; the devout widow who wears a veil at daily mass; the father and son who love to take apart machines and see how they work, or, if not quite so involved, at least marvel at their functioning. This attraction to wonder is intrinsic.

L.C. Ricardo
The Desire for Dragons

Reading, at least reading live authors, should be fun. The best kind of education, surely, is one which encourages delight, communicates enthusiasm. Certainly the best kind of readers are those who feel the delight and enthusiasm. I can’t say that I write for children, except in the case of picture book texts, but I love being published for them. Children aren’t a different species, they are us, a few decades ago. And perhaps the part of us that’s still there, underneath, unrecognised, powerful: the part that includes the imagination.

We – teachers, librarians, parents, authors – have a responsibility for the imagination of the child. I don’t mean we have to educate it – you can’t do that, any more than you can teach a butterfly how to fly. But you can help the imagination to develop properly, and to survive things that may threaten it: like the over-use of computers and everything I classify as SOS, Stuff on Screens. I do realize that the Age of the Screen has now replaced the Age of the Page. But on all those screens there are words, and in order to linger in the mind, words still require pages. We are in grave danger of forgetting the importance of the book.

Susan Cooper
Speech given to the Youth Libraries Group, 1990