Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.
There is no universal formula to create a piece of art. Everyone has to find their own path.
A special kind of beauty exists which is born in language, of language, and for language.
You never find yourself until you face the truth.
You must change in order to survive.
Fate carries its own clock.
Never, never rest contented with any circle of ideas, but always be certain that a wider one is still possible.
We look into mirrors but we only see the effects of our times on us—not our effects on others.
Philip James Bailey
The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat one’s self. All sin is easy after that.
Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.
It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.
American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.
I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck—but most of all, endurance.
The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers.
You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.
I'd rather regret the things I've done than regret the things I haven't done.
The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.
I think knowing what you cannot do is more important than knowing what you can.
Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.
Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead.
I'm not funny. What I am is brave.
If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.
It's a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.
I'm happy that I have brought laughter because I have been shown by many the value of it in so many lives, in so many ways.
That’s the magic of revisions—every cut is necessary, and every cut hurts, but something new always grows.
There's no such thing as complete when it comes to stories. Stories are infinite. They are as infinite as worlds.
A story can tell the truth...but a story can also lie. Stories can bend and twist and obfuscate. Controlling stories is power indeed.
Stories have a tendency to seep across the shining membrane walls separating the universes. They whisper and flutter like the feathers of birds, from island to mainland and back again. They fall into dreams like rain.
John M. Barrie
All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.
Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
But the kind of judgment necessary to the good personal essay, or to the memoir, is not that nasty tendency to oversimplify and dismiss other people out of hand but rather the willingness to form and express complex opinions, both positive and negative.
Whether or not you employ humor in dealing with difficult subjects, the tone of the writing is of the utmost importance. Personally, I can read about almost any subject if I feel a basic trust in, and respect for, the writer. The voice must have authority.
Poetry is great for constructing narratives in a way that asks the reader to do some of the heavy lifting in putting the story together.
I think I choose to write about conflict because I’m interested in shining a light on stories society would rather not look at. And I’m not interested in proselytizing—I’m interested in figuring something out about a particular conflict.
I suppose if poetry has any inherent power, it’s in the fact that it’s often short and richly rendered, and in our fast one-time-use consumer culture, poetry is often language that has been labored over in the best sense, so it requires us to use different neurons than what our culture often requires us to use.
Art helps us see beyond ourselves, and anytime we do that, it’s a good thing.
One of the strengths of poetry is that it’s not results-driven. Poetry that is trying to spark a certain specific emotion in the reader often feels over-determined.
More and more studies are showing that literature is one of the best ways to learn empathy—we learn to sympathize with the plight of characters different from ourselves. Despite the flaws modern readers see in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the book helped a generation of readers sympathize with slaves.
You grow up the day you have your first real laugh—at yourself.
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise; seek what they sought.
The temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers.
Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
Like life, writing forces a series of choices that bring you to an ending.
There's a part of every living thing that wants to become itself: the tadpole into the frog, the chrysalis into the butterfly, a damaged human being into a whole one. That is spirituality.
Poetry is the most intimate of all writing.
So much inspires me. People living their lives with courage, beauty of all kinds, nature in all its aspects, people I love and people I hardly know, and, of course, other poets.
I think many people love poetry who don't know they love it. People are sometimes afraid of poetry, or they've been introduced to poetry that doesn't speak to them.
Most great poems have both praise and lament.
Mary Catherine Bateson
The timing of death, like the ending of a story, gives a changed meaning to what preceded it.
Always be a poet, even in prose.
I can barely conceive of a type of beauty in which there is no Melancholy.
To handle a language skillfully is to practice a kind of evocative sorcery.
Inspiration comes of working every day.
A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.
Any healthy man can go without food for two days—but not without poetry.
It’s by writing . . . by stepping back a bit from the real thing to look at it, that we are most present.
Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.
All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.
Words are all we have.
Habit is a great deadener.
Words are the clothes thoughts wear.
There is a saying: Genius is perseverance. While genius does not consist entirely of editing, without editing it's pretty useless.
You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.
For me, words are a form of action, capable of influencing change.
The reinvention, the making of a poetry for our time, is the only thing that makes poetry matter. And that means, literally, making poetry matter, that is making poetry that intensifies the matter or materiality of poetry—acoustic, visual, syntactic, semantic. Poetry is very much alive when it finds ways of doing things in a media-saturated environment that only poetry can do, but very much dead when it retreads the same old same old.
The past is our definition. We may strive with good reason to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it. But we will escape it only by adding something better to it.
There are no unsecured places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.
Soft margins and wide peripheries unfocused, I don't give form to my appreciation, but sit quietly with a quality of blossoms that feels like light.
The ethos and critique are of poetry, which becomes a rich dark with a phosphorescence of lyric as witness.
Nobody is ordinary if you know where to look.
We are all the heroes and heroines of our own lives. Our love stories are amazingly romantic; our losses and betrayals and disappointments are gigantic in our own minds.
The most important thing to realize is that everyone is capable of telling a story.
Do not complain beneath the stars about the lack of bright spots in your life.
One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.
Forgiveness does not change the past but it does enlarge the future.
I cannot believe that the inscrutable universe turns on an axis of suffering; surely the strange beauty of the world must somewhere rest on pure joy!
When humor goes, there goes civilization.
The true poem rests between the words.
What a curious power words have.
There can be no beauty if it is paid for by human injustice, nor truth that passes over injustice in silence, nor moral virtue that condones it.
An artist can show things that other people are terrified of expressing.
I do not need the musing of the philosophers to tell me what I am doing. It would be more interesting to let me know why I am doing it.
What modern art means is that you have to keep finding new ways to express yourself, to express the problems, that there are no settled ways, no fixed approach. This is a painful situation, and modern art is about this painful situation of having no absolutely definite way of expressing yourself.
To be an artist, you need to exist in a world of silence.
In order to create you have to believe in your ability to do so and that often means excluding whole chunks of normal life, and, of course, pumping yourself up as much as possible as a way of keeping on. Sort of cheering for yourself in the great football stadium of life.
I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.
Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.
Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.
Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.
I don’t believe in being serious about anything. I think life is too serious to be taken seriously.
How working for the wrong motives poisons our creativity and warps our ideas of success and failure.
Every time I see work from another artist that I love, I tend to have a visceral reaction to the piece(s). It could be a quickening of my pulse, or butterflies in my stomach, that strange twisty feeling you get in your gut that's so similar to the reaction you would have when lusting over someone. That's how I know it's good. I can't stop smiling, or staring; it brings me such a rush of emotion that I can't help but feel drawn to it. I believe it comes down to a purity of the artist's voice that you really can't fake. When making my own work, I know I've done my job when I get that feeling, that twinge of excitement (of course that doesn't always happen, unfortunately) but I know I've done my best when I have those feelings.
We don't ask a flower any special reason for its existence. We just look at it and are able to accept it as being something different from ourselves.
Poetry is life distilled.
Art hurts. Art urges voyages—and it is easier to stay at home.
A poem rarely comes whole and completely dressed. As a rule, it comes in bits and pieces. You get an impression of something, and you begin, feebly, to put these impressions and feelings and anticipation or remembering into those things which seem so common and handleable — words. And you flail and you falter and you shift and you shake, and finally, you come forth with the first draft. Then, if you’re myself and if you’re like many of the poets that I know, you revise, and you revise. And often the finished product is nothing like your first draft. Sometimes it is.
Books are meat and medicine and flame and flight and flower steel, stitch, cloud and clout, and drumbeats on the air.
Say to them, say to the down-keepers, the sun-slappers, the self-soilers, the harmony-hushers, "Even if you are not ready for day it cannot always be night." You will be right. For that is the hard home-run. Live not for battles won. Live not for the-end-of-the-song. Live in the along.
Words can do wonderful things. They pound, purr. They can urge, they can wheedle, whip, whine. They can sing, sass, singe. They can churn, check, channelize. They can be a "Hup two three four." They can forge a fiery army of a hundred languid men.
Writing is a delicious agony.
Art is a refining and evocative translation of the materials of the world.
I felt that I had to write. Even if I had never been published, I knew that I would go on writing, enjoying it and experiencing the challenge.
The people in the workshops have told me, over and over again, that they had hated poetry because they were forced to memorize it in elementary school and high school, and it was presented as something heavy, to be gotten through for the sake of grades. The thing I am interested in doing is in presenting poetry as a living thing, an instrument of pleasure, of release, and they enjoy it when it’s given to them that way.
A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.
Rita Mae Brown
Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.
Language is the roadmap of a culture. It tells you where its people came from and where they are going.
People are like tea bags; you never know how strong they'll be until they're in hot water. In times of trouble, you not only discover what you truly believe but whether or not you can act on your beliefs.
I believe you are your work. Don't trade the stuff of your life, time, for nothing more than dollars. That's a rotten bargain.
A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction.
Language exerts hidden power, like the moon on the tides.
Oppression works in such a way that it holds every person responsible for the acts of any wrongdoer of the oppressed group.
Ignorance is not innocence but sin.
Others inspire us, information feeds us, practice improves our performance, but we need quiet time to figure things out, to emerge with new discoveries, to unearth original answers.
Pearl S. Buck
Self-expression must pass into communication for its fulfillment.
The secret of joy in work is contained in one word—excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.
If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.
I don't wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.
To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.
Growth itself contains the germ of happiness.
Henry Thomas Buckle
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.
Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?
Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.
Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.
Generosity without delicacy, like wit without judgement, generally gives as much pain as pleasure.
A little alarm now and then keeps life from stagnation.
How little has situation to do with happiness. The happy individual uses their intelligence to realise things could be worse and therefore is grateful and happy. The unhappy individual does the opposite!
But authors before they write should read.
You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.
Writing is one of the few professions in which you can psychoanalyze yourself, get rid of hostilities and frustrations in public, and get paid for it.
I have a huge and savage conscience that won't let me get away with things.
People have the right to call themselves whatever they like. That doesn't bother me. It's other people doing the calling that bothers me.
I began writing about power because I had so little.
Writers use everything. We can't help it. Whatever touches us touches our writing.