Tag Archives: writing life

Entering the Mind of Poetry

  
    
“Every good poem begins in language awake to its own connections – language that hears itself and what is around it, sees itself and what is around it, looks back at those who look into its gaze and knows more perhaps even than we do about who and what we are.  It begins, that is, in the body and mind of concentration.”
   
– Jane Hirshfield, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry (HarperPerennial, 1998)

Seamus Heaney

 
” … Keep at a tangent.
When they make the circle wide, it’s time to swim
out on your own and fill the element
with signatures on your own frequency,
echo-soundings, searches, probes, allurements,
elver gleams in the dark of the whole sea.”
 
– Seamus Heaney, from ‘Station Island’

Writing as Ritual

 
“An act of will that changed my life from that of a frustrated artist, waiting to have a room of my own and an independent income before getting down to business, to that of a working writer: I decided to get up two hours before my usual time, to set my alarm for 5:00 A.M. … Since that first morning in 1978 when I rose in the dark to find myself in a room of my own –  with two hours belonging only to me ahead of me, two prime hours when my mind was still filtering my dreams – I have not made or accepted too many excuses for not writing. This apparently ordinary choice, to get up early and to work every day, forced me to come to terms with the discipline of art.”
 
– Judith Ortiz Cofer, ‘5.00 A.M.: Writing as Ritual’

Charles Péguy

 
“A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.”
 
– Charles Péguy

Penelope Shuttle

 
“Poetry is an antidote to the poison level at which we often consent to live. We are, many of us, amnesiacs. We forget the amazing things that happen to us. Poetry remembers them. Also, what is given shared articulation can never hurt so much as whatever remains unuttered.”
 
– Penelope Shuttle

Jeanette Winterson on gardening and writing

 
“I learned to garden the way I learned to write – out of necessity.  We needed vegetables and flowers, and I needed to tell myself a long story about life – I am still telling it – a kind of beanstalk that grows and grows, and I can climb it, both to escape the possibility of life at the bottom, and to find another world where giants and castles and harp-playing hens are still to be found.
 
Gardening, like story-telling, is a continuing narrative.  One thing leads to another.  Like stories, there is always something going on in the garden long after the gardener has gone to bed.  The thing grows, unfolds, changes, develops a maddening life of its own.  For me, as a writer, I go to sleep with an idea in my head, and it takes hold during the night.  I open the back door in the morning, and the tulips that refused to look at me the night before, have opened in the sun.”
 
– Jeanette Winterson
 
Read the article here.

The Palestine Festival of Literature

 
From the Press Release:
    
The second Palestine Festival of Literature is taking place from
23 to 28 May 2009.
  
Because of the difficulties Palestinians face under military occupation in travelling around their own country, the Festival group of 17 international writers will travel to its audiences in the West Bank.  It will tour to Ramallah, to Jenin, to al-Khalil/Hebron and to Bethlehem.  To mark Jerusalem’s status as Cultural Capital of the Arab World for 2009, the festival will begin and end in Jerusalem.
   
Michael Palin will be taking part in the festival this year together with:  Suad Amiry, Victoria Brittain, Carmen Callil, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Suheir Hammad, Nathalie Handal, Jeremy Harding, Rachel Holmes, Robin Yassin-Kassab, Brigid Keenan, Jamal Mahjoub, Henning Mankell (accompanied by his wife, Eva Bergman), Deborah Moggach, Claire Messud, Alexandra Pringle, Pru Rowlandson, Raja Shehadeh, Ahdaf Soueif and M G Vassanji.
  
For the full programme of events please visit the website.

Katy Evans-Bush

  
When asked what advice she would give a young poet, Katy said:
  
“I’d say, with Henry James:  “try to be one of those people on whom nothing is lost.”
  
Read Katy’s post, ‘advice to a young poet, reprised’, at her blog, Baroque in Hackney.

Bob Hicok

  
“I don’t think about “my” audience … I don’t know how anyone could write with a group of people in mind.  It’s difficult enough to rummage around in my own head, let alone estimate how my words will enter another life.  Writers should be good at sensing where readers will be more or less confused, angry, emotionally or intellectually involved, in evaluating the content of their writing in general terms.  But to think about readers while writing is to invite the hypothetical into the process in a way that stops me from being open to the actual, to myself.”
  
– Bob Hicok

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