Ah Love, you smell of petroleum
and overwork
with grease on your fingernails,
paint in your hair
there is a pained look in your eye
from no appreciation
you speak to me of the lilacs
and appleblossoms we ought to have
the banquets we should be serving
afterwards rubbing each other for hours
with tenderness and genuine
olive oil
someday. Meantime here is your cracked plate
with spaghetti. Wash your hands &
touch me, praise
my cooking. I shall praise your calluses,
we shall dance in the kitchen
of our imagination.

Judy Grahn

Alone

June 21, 2020

Sometimes, I feel the least alone
when I’m alone
creating characters from ashes
watching them fly around my ceiling
twirling and swirling in smooth circles
leaving trails of stories behind
before they leap out the window
throwing themselves into the night. I gather up the dust
rub it between my fingers
and whisper the magic words –
then, I get to work.

Kristen Costello

Absolutely drained

June 16, 2020

Two hours of writing fiction leaves this particular writer absolutely drained. For those two hours he has been miles away, he has been somewhere else, in a different place with totally different people, and the effort of swimming back into normal surroundings is very great.

Roald Dahl
Boy: Tales of Childhood

imagination

April 22, 2020

Gauguin gives me courage to use my imagination, and it’s true enough that paintings of this kind have something mysterious about them…Gauguin and Bernard don’t ask what the exact shape of a tree is, but they do insist that one should be clear whether the shape is round or square, and they’re right. They are fed up with the photographic but absolutely empty perfection of certain painters.

Vincent Van Gogh
letter from Arles to Theo Van Gogh, Wednesday, 8 August 1888

power of the imagination

March 24, 2020

Perhaps the ideal reader is an adolescent: restless, vulnerable, passionate, hungry to learn, skeptical and naïve by turns, believing in the power of the imagination to change, if not life itself, one’s comprehension of life. The degree to which we remain adolescents is the degree to which we remain ideal readers, for whom the act of opening a book can be a sacred one, fraught with psychic risk.

Joyce Carol Oates
The One Unforgivable Sin
New York Review of Books 25 July 1993

In spite of cyberpunk’s dominance within SF during the 1980s, the consensus among both SF writers and critics is that cyberpunk as a movement is essentially over. Many of the central core of cyberpunk authors, including William Gibson, Rudy Rucker, Lewis Shiner, John Shirley, and Bruce Sterling, have turned to other projects. At the same time, although cyberpunk is still being written here and there, it is difficult to detect anything like a coherent group of second-generation cyberpunk writers. Nevertheless, however passé it may be as a self-conscious literary movement, cyberpunk continues to exert considerable influence on science-fiction writers, though in diffuse and often contradictory ways. At one extreme, cyberpunk has begun to function as an excluded “Other” against which many writers shape their fiction. Such is the case with such popular writers as Kim Stanley Robinson, Sheri Tepper, Connie Willis, and Pat Murphy, who, consciously or unconsciously, write against the grain of cyberpunk and in some cases seemingly in direct opposition to it. At the other extreme stand writers like George Alec Effinger, K.W. Jeter, Pat Cadigan, and Emma Bull, who persist in finding the themes and images of cyberpunk vital imaginative terrain, however cliched, or downright repugnant, those themes and images may now appear to others.

Claire Sponsler
Beyond the Ruins: The Geopolitics of Urban Decay and Cybernetic Play

God & man

March 1, 2020

In the beginning man created God in his own image…

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

Writing is re-naming

February 11, 2020

You have to be free to play around with the notion that day might be night, love might be hate; nothing can be too sacred for the imagination to turn into its opposite or to call experimentally by another name. For writing is re-naming.

Adrienne Rich
When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision

Literature is an uttering, or outering, of the human imagination. It lets the shadowy forms of thought and feeling – heaven, hell, monsters, angels and all – out into the light, where we can take a good look at them and perhaps come to a better understanding of who we are and what we want, and what the limits to those wants may be. Understanding the imagination is no longer a pastime, but a necessity; because increasingly, if we can imagine it, we’ll be able to do it.

Margaret Atwood
Aliens have taken the place of angels
The Guardian, Friday June 17, 2005