flow of words

March 28, 2020

She loved the way her flow of words enveloped them both, such fiery, burning, incandescent words.

P

All through our gliding journey, on this day as on so many others, a little song runs through my mind. I say song because it passes musically, but it is really just words, a thought that is neither strange nor complex. In fact, how strange it would be not to think it – not to have such music inside one’s head and body, on such an afternoon. What does it mean, say the words, that the earth is so beautiful? And what shall I do about it? What is the gift I should bring to the world? What is the life I should live?

Mary Oliver
Flow
Long Life

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

We mostly understand ourselves through an endless series of stories told to ourselves by ourselves and others. The so-called facts of our individual words are highly coloured and arbitrary, facts that fit whatever fiction we have chosen to believe in. It is necessary to have a story, an alibi that gets us through the day, but what happens when the story becomes scripture? When we can no longer recognize anything outside our own reality?

We have to be careful not to live in a state of constant self-censorship, where whatever conflicts with our world view is dismissed or diluted until it ceases to be a bother. Struggling against the limitations we place on our minds is our own imaginative capacity, a recognition of an inner life often at odds with the internal figuring’s we spend so much energy supporting.

Jeanette Winterson
Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery

walk in this unknown rain

January 28, 2020

I listen to the sound of the water falling in my sleep. Words fall like water, I fall. I draw in my eyes, the shape of my eyes, and I swim in my waters: I tell myself my silences. All night I wait for language to configure me. And I think of the wind that comes to me, that dwells in me. All night I walk in this unknown rain. I was given a silence full of forms and visions (you say). And then you ran with regret like the only bird in the wind.

Alejandra Pizarnik
The musical hell
Trans. Peedeel

words like nets

January 2, 2020

‘Haunted!’ she cried, suddenly pressing the accelerator. ‘Haunted, ever since I was a child. There flies the wild goose. It flies past the window out to sea. Up I jumped (she gripped the steering-wheel tighter) and stretched after it. But the goose flies too fast. I’ve seen it, here – there – there – England, Persia, Italy. Always it flies fast out to sea and always I fling after it words like nets (and here she flung her hand out) which shrivel as I’ve seen nets shrivel with only sea-weed in them; and sometimes there’s an inch of silver – six words – at bottom of the net. But never the great fish who lives in the coral-groves.’

Virginia Woolf
Orlando

Little Red Cap

December 24, 2019

At childhood’s end, the houses petered out
Into playing fields, the factory, allotments
Kept, like mistresses, by kneeling married men
The silent railway line, the hermit’s caravan
Till you came at last to the edge of the woods
It was there that I first clapped eyes on the wolf

He stood in a clearing, reading his verse out loud
In his wolfy drawl, a paperback in his hairy paw
Red wine staining his bearded jaw. What big ears
He had! What big eyes he had! What teeth!
In the interval, I made quite sure he spotted me
Sweet sixteen, never been, babe, waif, and bought me a drink

My first. You might ask why. Here’s why. Poetry
The wolf, I knew, would lead me deep into the woods
Away from home, to a dark tangled thorny place
Lit by the eyes of owls. I crawled in his wake
My stockings ripped to shreds, scraps of red from my blazer
Snagged on twig and branch, murder clues. I lost both shoes

But got there, wolf’s lair, better beware. Lesson one that night
Breath of the wolf in my ear, was the love poem
I clung till dawn to his thrashing fur, for
What little girl doesn’t dearly love a wolf?1
Then I slid from between his heavy matted paws
And went in search of a living bird – white dove –

Which flew, straight, from my hands to his open mouth
One bite, dead. How nice, breakfast in bed, he said
Licking his chops. As soon as he slept, I crept to the back
Of the lair, where a whole wall was crimson, gold, aglow with books
Words, words were truly alive on the tongue, in the head
Warm, beating, frantic, winged; music and blood

But then I was young – and it took ten years
In the woods to tell that a mushroom
Stoppers the mouth of a buried corpse, that birds
Are the uttered thought of trees, that a greying wolf
Howls the same old song at the moon, year in, year out
Season after season, same rhyme, same reason. I took an axe

To a willow to see how it wept. I took an axe to a salmon
To see how it leapt. I took an axe to the wolf
As he slept, one chop, scrotum to throat, and saw
The glistening, virgin white of my grandmother’s bones
I filled his old belly with stones. I stitched him up
Out of the forest I come with my flowers, singing, all alone

Carol Ann Duffy

Words

November 30, 2019

Language games, playing with language. Using the dictionary is fun. Words play leapfrog with each other. Letters disappear. And, unexpectedly, poems appear…

Poetry’s all very well
but it rhymes and scans, its lines
strap you into carved Imperial chairs, tie you
to the headboard of a four-poster bed. What I need
is words that never sleep, a futuristic babble, glossolalia
ancient words that only unborn babies understand, pure sound.

Nancy Mattson

poets

November 16, 2019

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

John Fowles
The French Lieutenant’s Woman