Dancing to silence

July 12, 2019

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.

Anon

  • Please note boys and girls, this quote is sourced to Friedrich Nietzsche all over the internet, but that is rubbish – poor old Nietzsche NEVER wrote or said this – nor anything like it! The TIMES newspaper in 1927 published this:

“They who dance are thought mad by those who hear not the music. The truth of the old proverb was never more surely borne out that it is just now.”

Little Prayer

June 13, 2019

let ruin end here

let him find honey
where there was once a slaughter

let him enter the lion’s cage
& find a field of lilacs

let this be the healing
& if not let it be

Danez Smith
From the collection : Don’t Call Us Dead

These poems can’t make history vanish, but they can contend against it with the force of a restorative imagination. Smith’s work is about that imagination — its role in repairing and sustaining communities, and in making the world more bearable….Their poems are enriched to the point of volatility, but they pay out, often, in sudden joy…But they also know the magic trick of making writing on the page operate like the most ecstatic speech.(The New Yorker)

Five years ago, I decided to try being involved with a woman because I had many unsuccessful relationships with men and I wondered if I was missing out. I met a lesbian on POF and we dated for about 2 months, and we had sex 3 times, and it was weird. Eating pussy is really weird. It tastes like a 9-volt battery. Women are hard to give orgasms to. I felt very inadequate. Anyway, I realised that I was definitely straight and I’m glad I tried it because now I know. Also, as an aside, she gave me the best head I’ve ever received.

SOURCE

Lost & found

May 25, 2019

Rilke warned young poets against large sweeping topics, since those are the most difficult and demand great artistic maturity. He counselled them to write about what they see around them, how they live each day, what’s been lost, what’s been found. He encouraged them to bring the things that surround us into their art, images from dreams, remembered objects. ‘If daily life seems impoverished to you,’ he wrote, ‘don’t blame life. You yourself are to blame. You’re just not enough of a poet to perceive its wealth.’ This advice may seem mundane and dim-witted to you. This is why we called to our defence one of the most esoteric poets in world literature — and just see how he praised so-called ordinary things!

Wislawa Szymborska
Letter to Michal in Nowy Targ
Literary Life
Trans. Clare Cavanagh

Write freely

May 18, 2019

1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theatre, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person — a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
6. If you are using dialogue — say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

John Steinbeck
letter to Robert Wallsten February, 1962

look all round me

April 21, 2019

I have read your poems with my door locked late at night and I have read them on the seashore where I could look all round me and see no more sign of human life than the ships out at sea: and here I often found myself waking up from a reverie with the book open before me. I love all poetry, and high generous thoughts make the tears rush to my eyes, but sometimes a word or a phrase of yours takes me away from the world around me and places me in an ideal land surrounded by realities more than any poem I ever read.

Bram Stoker

Letter to Walt Whitman February 1872

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Temptation

December 15, 2018

A poem for Brigid on Imbolc:

Call yourself alive? Look, I promise you
that for the first time you’ll feel your pores opening
like fish mouths, and you’ll actually be able to hear
your blood surging through all those lanes,
and you’ll feel light gliding across the cornea
like the train of a dress. For the first time
you’ll be aware of gravity
like the thorn in your heel,
and you’ll shoulder blades will ache for the want of wings.
Call yourself alive? I promise you
you’ll be deafened by dust falling on furniture,
you’ll feel your eyebrows turning into two gashes,
and every memory you have — will begin
at Genesis.

Nina Cassian
Translated by: Brenda Walker & Andrea Deletant

nowhere to flee

September 23, 2018

fun in the woods - Thomas Petersen

Suppose someone told you: your shadow sees you, it sees you all the time. Do you understand? Suddenly you experience a strange sensation: the hands at your sides feel like someone else’s and you are aware of how absurdly you’re swinging your arms and how out of step you are. Then suddenly I can barely resist turning around to look — but looking back at anything is forbidden; my neck is locked. And I run and run, faster and faster, and at my spine, I feel it: the shadow is behind me, going faster and faster, and there is nowhere to flee, nowhere…

Yevgeny Zamyatin
We
Ttranslator Natasha Randall

How I write

August 11, 2018