Tag Archives: life

Michael Ondaatje

  
“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves.  I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead.  I believe in such cartography – to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings.  We are communal histories, communal bodies.  We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience.”
  
– Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Sweet and savoury poetry

 
Thirteen Ways with Figs‘ is included in a list of poem links on foodie blog, Hugging the Coast: A Daily Updated Celebration of Coastal Food.  If you’re into sweet and savoury poetry, you’ll find nourishing lines here by Charles Simic, Joy Harjo, Myesha Jenkins, Miroslav Holub, Kim Addonizio, Lucille Clifton, Margaret Atwood, Ted Kooser, Howard Nemerov, C D Wright, Cesare Pavese and Carol Muske-Dukes, among others.

Pablo Neruda

 
“It is well, at certain hours of the day and night, to look closely at the world of objects at rest.  Wheels that have crossed long, dusty distances with their mineral and vegetable burdens, sacks from the coalbins, barrels and baskets, handles and hafts for the carpenter’s tool chest.  From them flow the contacts of man with the earth … The used surface of things, the wear that the hands give to things, the air, tragic at times, pathetic at others, of such things – all lend a curious attractiveness to the reality of the world that should not be underprized.”
 
– Pablo Neruda

A Fork in the Road: André Brink on Ingrid Jonker

  
“Until recently, I have chosen not to be drawn into discussions or evocations of her life, notably in documentary films, some unforgivably bad,” he writes.  “But precisely because of these I have begun to believe that perhaps I owe it to her at last to unfold, without drama or melodrama, some of the things I have kept to myself.  Not the icon but the person. The woman I loved.  And who nearly drove me mad.”
  
Read Andrew Donaldson’s article in The Times.
 
Read more about South African poet, Ingrid Jonker, on the Poetry International Web.

Why I Write

 
Poet and activist, Dustin Brookshire, invited me to contribute to his Why Do I Write series.
 
Why do I write?  Author, naturalist and environmental activist, Terry Tempest Williams, covers it all in one of my favourite writing quotes.  It’s from her prose piece entitled “Why I Write” in Writing Creative Nonfiction, edited by Carolyn Forché and Philip Gerard (Writer’s Digest Books, 2001).
 
This year’s contributors to the Why Do I Write series are Mary Jo Bang, Robert Pinsky, Ellen Steinbaum, Paul Lisicky, Virgil Suárez, D A Powell and Didi Menendez.  Last year’s line up included Charles Jensen, Erin Murphy, Dorianne Laux, Matthew Hittinger, Christopher Hennessy, Paul Hostovsky, Courtney Queeney, Julianna Baggott, Ellen Bass, Sandra Beasley, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Kurt Brown, Cecilia Woloch, Denise Duhamel and Dara Wier.
 
I think there’s something for everyone.

Baron Wormser’s The Poetry Life

“Feeling your way into the poem is like opening the door of a shadowy room and groping.  You’re not even sure about the floor underneath you – it’s likely not to be level – nor are you sure when you start to touch some objects – which represent feelings because every image is expressive – what they are.  But it’s your room, that’s the main thing, and you come to learn your way around it even though it always remains dark except for that splendor that lives in laying out the words.  Though a poem often is a little thing, twenty lines or even less, a good one is sturdy and knit together like bone, ligament, and muscle.  The poets themselves are often not so sturdy.”
 
– Baron Wormser, The Poetry Life: ten stories (CavanKerry Press, 2008)

Italo Calvino

  
“Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had:  the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.”
  
– Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Gaia Holmes’s ‘When he comes’

  
When he comes
Gaia Holmes
  
So this is it.
This is the night.
Downstairs the sofa
doesn’t know me anymore,
my occasional china
is cracking with boredom,
the front door
is guarded by foxgloves
and throttled
with toad-flax
and this is it.
This is me;
mad woman in the attic
sifting the air for gold-dust,
a circle of crushed moths
patterning the carpet
around my feet,
cold coffee at my elbow,
logic in a hip-flask
and I’m drinking wine
that tastes of hay
and Salamanca in July
and we’re all waiting
for the storm, an answer,
a fag-burn in the sky,
words etched into
the slick streets,
the soft porn
of rain
on the skylight window.
We’re all waiting
for our dead dogs
to rattle up the stairs.
We’re all waiting
for our grandmothers
to polish our eyes
with spit
on the corner
of a vest.
We’re all waiting
for someone to say our name
with meaning.
We’re all waiting,
ears angled cat-like,
waiting,
for a car to pull up,
waiting,
for inspiration
to open the door
and enter
smelling of life,
of blood,
of little deaths,
of unspeakable notions
and say I’m yours.
Take me now.

Writing objects to the lie that life is small

 
“Writing objects to the lie that life is small.  Writing is a cell of energy.  Writing defines itself.  Writing draws its viewer in for longer than an instant.  Writing exhibits boldness.  Writing restores power to exalt, unnerve, shock, and transform us.  Writing does not imitate life, it anticipates life.”
 
– Jeanette Winterson