Writing

January 18, 2019

Writing is in some way being able to sit down the next day and go through everything you wanted to say, finding the right words, giving shape to the images, and linking them to feelings and thoughts. It isn’t exactly like a social conversation because you aren’t giving information in the usual sense of the word or flirting or persuading anyone of anything or proving a point; it’s more that you are revealing something whole in the form of a character, a city, a moment, an image seen in a flash out of a character’s eyes. It’s being able to take something whole and fiercely alive that exists inside you in some unknowable combination of thought, feeling, physicality, and spirit, and to then store it like a genie in tense, tiny black symbols on a calm white page. If the wrong reader comes across the words, they will remain just words. But for the right readers, your vision blooms off the page and is absorbed into their minds like smoke, where it will re-form, whole and alive, fully adapted to its new environment. It is a deeply satisfying feeling.

Mary Gaitskill
Inside the writer’s mind

poetry

December 20, 2018

Poems are nearer to prayers than to stories, but in poetry there is no one behind the language being prayed to. It is the language itself which has to hear and acknowledge. For the religious poet, the Word is the first attribute of God. In all poetry words are a presence before they are a means of communication.

John Berger
My Heart, Brief as Photos

soft graves

December 16, 2018

i wish
to dig
the cemeteries
of my lips
in hopes
of collecting
gnarled skeletons
of the words
i wish to speak

j. p. berame

Poems & Words

November 29, 2018

We all write poems; it is simply that poets are the ones who write in words.

John Fowles
The French Lieutenant’s Woman

Like Magic –

November 28, 2018

There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.

Diane Setterfield
The Thirteenth Tale

Say anything. Free-writing, free-associating, and keeping a journal are all ways to move from silence into words…(‘Say anything’ is another version of William Stafford’s famous advice: ‘There’s no such thing as writer’s block; you need only lower your standards.’)

Jane Hirshfield
Reconnecting After a Silence
Poets & Writers Magazine January/February 2018

charged with presentiments

October 23, 2018

Scotland Fog - Skyler Brown

Writing on the subject of Innocence and Memory, the Italian poet Ungaretti noted that if memory referred only to the past, it would lead to despair. Instead, he called memory a word ‘charged with presentiments,’ which opens forwards as well as backwards in time and thereby contains seeds of renewal — echoing the myth of Mnemosyne who gave birth to the muses who tell of what is and what will be as well as what was.

Words have this range, Ungaretti observed, because of the imprecise personal associations that they evoke. What lifts a word from the pages of a dictionary to make it a living force with the potential of approaching truth is not its denotation but its connotations: ‘this margin of infinite allusions through which imagination and emotion can wander.’ This margin of connotations derives from experience with particular people, places, and things, and their related words. Through these imprecise associations, Ungaretti argued, words most accurately articulate experience, as their indeterminacy lives actually within ourselves. We ourselves are compounds of error, ambiguity, and possibility which overflow bare denotation. Poetry, said Ungaretti, has always used this allusive quality of memory in order to approximate reality.

Louise Chawla
In the First Country of Places: Nature, Poetry, and Childhood Memory

Nature will not name itself

October 23, 2018

There are experiences of landscape that will always resist articulation, and of which words offer only a distant echo. Nature will not name itself. Granite doesn’t self-identify as igneous. Light has no grammar. Language is always late for its subject… But we are and always have been name-callers, christeners. Words are grained into our landscapes, and landscapes grained into our words.

Robert MacFarlane
The Word-Hoard: Robert MacFarlane on rewilding our language of landscape

no one behind the language

October 21, 2018

Poems are nearer to prayers than to stories, but in poetry there is no one behind the language being prayed to. It is the language itself which has to hear and acknowledge. For the religious poet, the Word is the first attribute of God. In all poetry words are a presence before they are a means of communication.

John Berger
and our faces, my Heart, brief as Photos

that absurd habit

October 13, 2018

sun sea and gull

Yes, I read. I have that absurd habit. I like beautiful poems, moving poetry, and all the beyond of that poetry.

I am extraordinarily sensitive to those poor, marvellous words left in our dark night by a few men I never knew

Louis Aragon
Treatise on Style