Reasons to love poetry

March 5, 2020

One of the reasons people love poetry is that they find in a poem something which resonates with their own experience, whether that is in Ferlenghetti writing in the 1980s about the erosion of freedom or Alan Spence, who can pinpoint in the few haiku syllables a moment which is both unique and entirely recognisable.

Susan Mansfield
Poetry review StAnza 2019

practice reading

March 16, 2019

But the problem with readers, the idea we’re given of reading is that the model of a reader is the person watching a film, or watching television. So the greatest principle is, “I should sit here and I should be entertained.” And the more classical model, which has been completely taken away, is the idea of a reader as an amateur musician. An amateur musician who sits at the piano, has a piece of music, which is the work, made by somebody they don’t know, who they probably couldn’t comprehend entirely, and they have to use their skills to play this piece of music.  The greater the skill, the greater the gift that you give the artist and that the artist gives you. That’s the incredibly unfashionable idea of reading.  And yet when you practice reading, and you work at a text, it can only give you what you put into it. It’s an old moral, but it’s completely true.

Zadie Smith
Interview KCRW’s Bookworm program

People often ask how much of myself is in a book. Generally I say all of me and none of me. It’s dangerous to associate authors with their work. It’s fiction but the more you are engaged with your writing the more the readers are also involved. I think a reader needs the author to be invested wholly in the writing, otherwise it feels a bit like cheating, in a way.

I tend to get emotional towards the end of writing a book, because so much is coming together and the story feels as though it is going to work and do what I wanted it to do. I love endings – beginnings and endings are what I like most in fiction. The end of ‘A God In Ruins’ for me was the most meaningful and powerful of all the books I’ve written.

Kate Atkinson
Question & Answer session for 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction

turned into writers

September 11, 2018

Morning mist

Like many others who turned into writers, I disappeared into books when I was very young, disappeared into them like someone running into the woods. What surprised and still surprises me is that there was another side to the forest of stories and the solitude, that I came out that other side and met people there. Writers are solitaries by vocation and necessity. I sometimes think the test is not so much talent, which is not as rare as people think, but purpose or vocation, which manifests in part as the ability to endure a lot of solitude and keep working. Before writers are writers they are readers, living in books, through books, in the lives of others that are also the heads of others, in that act that is so intimate and yet so alone.

Rebecca Solnit
The Faraway Nearby