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Quotations I--J--K













Janis Ian

I've always been an avid reader. If I don't have a book in the car, I'll stop and pick one up just to have something to read. I don't even remember learning to read.

At the end of the day, all you can hope for is to go on. The older I get, the more I realize that just keeping on keeping on is what life's all about.

Eugene Ionesco


Ideology separates us. Dreams and anguish bring us together.


John Irving


Half my life is an act of revision.


Washington Irving


There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness but of power. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and of unspeakable love.

Kazuo Ishiguro

"Write about what you know" is the most stupid thing I've heard. It encourages people to write a dull autobiography. It's the reverse of firing the imagination and potential of writers.

Molly Ivins

Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful.

I've said it before: War brings out the patriotic bullies. In World War I, they went around kicking dachshunds on the grounds that dachshunds were 'German dogs.' They did not, however, go around kicking German shepherds.

I spend most of my life feeling like I've been shot out of a cannon.

Shirley Jackson

When shall we live if not now?

So long as you write it away regularly nothing can really hurt you.

I think that the popular notion of the writer as a person hiding away in a garret, unable to face reality, is probably perfectly true.

A writer who is serious and economical can store away small fragments of ideas and events and conversations, and even facial expressions and mannerisms, and use them all someday.

In the country of the story the writer is king.

The very nicest thing about being a writer is that you can afford to indulge yourself endlessly with oddness, and nobody can really do anything about it, as long as you keep writing and kind of using it up, as it were.

You will actually find that if you keep your story tight, with no swerving from the proper path, it will curl up quite naturally at the end, provided you stop when you have finished what you have to say.

All the time that I am making beds and doing dishes and driving to town for dancing shoes, I am telling myself stories.

I like writing fiction better than anything, because being a writer of fiction gives you an unassailable protection against reality; nothing is ever seen clearly or starkly, but always through a thin veil of words.

Henry James


Try and be one of the people on whom nothing is lost.


William James


The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.


The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.


Emma Jameson


We need to remember that circumstances don’t make a person, they reveal a person.


Criss Jami


Closed in a room, my imagination becomes the universe, and the rest of the world is missing out.


Randall Jarrell


A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightening five or six times; a dozen or two dozen times and he is great.

Tahar Ben Jelloun

Real friendship, like real poetry, is extremely rare--and precious as a pearl.

I came to poetry through the urgent need to denounce injustice, exploitation, humiliation. I know that's not enough to change the world. But to remain silent would have been a kind of intolerable complicity.

Poetry is a form of mathematics, a highly rigorous relationship with words.


Steve Jobs


Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.


Lyndon Baines Johnson


Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.

Samuel Johnson

A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.

Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.

The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.

Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it.

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.

The only end of writing is to enable readers better to enjoy life or better to endure it.

My congratulations to you, sir. Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.

Ashley M. Jones

The poet is a servant of the poetry, so when we’re in service of the work, we can also help strengthen and create community. I’ve found, in my life, that there’s something really inimitable about the way in which poetry can allow people (the poet included) to hear, find, or affirm their voices and remind them that we’re all here together as humans on Earth.

Mother Jones (Mary Harris Jones)


Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.


I'm not a humanitarian, I'm a hell-raiser.


My address is like my shoes. It travels with me. I abide where there is a fight against wrong.


I am not afraid of the pen, or the scaffold, or the sword. I will tell the truth wherever I please.


Sit down and read. Educate yourself for the coming conflicts.


Reformation, like education, is a journey, not a destination.


Rodney Jones


Only in the tamed trembling of a poem, I had believed some kindness might survive.


Nothing survives that hasn’t been lovingly scarred in the brain or dented by the human voice.


Erica Jong


And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more.


Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't.


Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.


I have accepted fear as part of life—specifically the fear of change . . . I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that 

says: turn back . . . 


Jealousy is all the fun you think they had.


Women are the only exploited group in history to have been idealized into powerlessness.


Anger is really disappointed hope.


We are so scared of being judged that we look for every excuse to procrastinate.


The trick is not how much pain you feel--but how much joy you feel. Any idiot can feel pain. Life is full of excuses to feel pain, excuses not to live, excuses, excuses, excuses.


June Jordan


What's important about poetry in the context of leadership is that most of the time, power has to do with dominance. But poetry is never about dominance. Poetry is powerful but it cannot even aspire to dominate anyone. It means making a connection. That's what it means.


Poetry is a political act because it involves telling the truth.


To tell the truth is to become beautiful, to begin to love yourself, value yourself. And that's political, in its most profound way.


As a poet and writer, I deeply love and I deeply hate words. I love the infinite evidence and change and requirements and possibilities of language; every human use of words that is joyful, or honest or new, because experience is new... But as a Black poet and writer, I hate words that cancel my name and my history and the freedom of my future: I hate the words that condemn and refuse the language of my people in America.


We are the ones we've been waiting for.


Good poetry and successful revolution change our lives. And you cannot compose a good poem or wage a revolution without changing consciousness unless you attack the language that you share with your enemies and invent a language that you share with your allies.


To begin is no more agony than opening your hand.


James Joyce


Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives.


Shut your eyes and see.


The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful. What the beautiful is is another question.


Life is too short to read a bad book.


A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.


Shakespeare is the happy hunting ground of all minds that have lost their balance.


The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring.


To learn one must be humble. But life is the great teacher.


I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.

Ismail Kadaré

The writer is always to some extent in exile, wherever he is, because he is somehow outside, separated from others; there is always a distance.

Mohja Kahf

All women speak two languages: 
the language of men
and the language of silent suffering.Some women speak a third,

the language of queens.


Frida Kahlo


I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.


Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.

Charlie Kaufman

Failure is a badge of honor. It means you risked failure. And if you don’t risk failure, you’re never going to do anything that’s different from what you’ve already done or what somebody else has done.

Shirley Kaufman

First, growing up in Seattle as an only child to immigrant parents . . . I was very much aware of their having come from the Old Country . . . . . And second, my moving to Israel in 1973 . . . In a sense I’ve felt all along that I’m living between two cultures, two languages, two identities.

Joanna Kavenna

Virginia Woolf said, speaking from the perspective of the writer, that there’s no such thing, objectively, as a good or a bad novel, there’s just the novel you wanted to write. From the perspective of the reader, equally, there’s no such thing (objectively again) as a good or a bad novel – just the novel that moves you, that seems really felt and imagined by the author, lively and alive. This probably means that the more idiosyncratic the novel the better, because any writer straining to conform to the precepts of a genre, or the fashions of an age, may well end up suppressing his or her real self, deferring to other people’s maxims and theories and generally becoming a terrible phoney. 


John Keats


Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity—it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.

My imagination is a monastery, and I am its monk.


Helen Keller 


Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It's what the sunflowers do. 


Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.


Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate, is strength undefeatable.


I would rather walk with a friend in the dark than alone in the light.


The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched—they must be felt with the heart.


Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.


Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.

John F. Kennedy


The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.' One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger--but recognize the opportunity.


We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back from whence we came.


Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.


Robert F. Kennedy


Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. 


Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.


Jane Kenyon


Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.


If you want a different life, you gotta start doing and learning different things.


If it's darkness we're having, let it be extravagant.


The poet's job is to put into words those feelings we all have that are so deep, so important, and yet so difficult to name, to tell the truth in such a beautiful way, that people cannot live without it.


If you want a different life, you gotta start doing and learning different things.


The soul's bliss and suffering are bound together.


Jack Kerouac


Genius gives birth, talent delivers. What Rembrandt or Van Gogh saw in the night can never be seen again. Born writers of the future are amazed already at what they’re seeing now, what we’ll all see in time for the first time, and then see imitated many times by made writers.


One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.


Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.


John Maynard Keynes


The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.


Eli Khamarov


Poets are soldiers that liberate words from the steadfast possession of definition.


Søren Kierkegaard


Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.


To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.

Elaine Kim

Being present is not just about observing our surroundings, but about knowing why we suffer and being sensitive to the impermanence of all things. 


Jamaica Kincaid


What I don't write is as important as what I write.


The space between the idea of something and its reality is always wide and deep and dark. The longer they are kept apart—idea of thing, reality of thing—the wider the width, the deeper the depth, the thicker and darker the darkness.


No matter how happy I had been in the past I do not long for it. The present is always the moment for which I love.


I understood that I was inventing myself, and that I was doing this more in the way of a painter than in the way of a scientist. I could not count on precision or calculation; I could only count on intuition.


The past is a room full of baggage and rubbish and sometimes things that are of use, but if they are of real use, I have kept them.


. . . yet a memory cannot be trusted, for so much of the experience of the past is determined by the experience of the present.


I understood that I was inventing myself, and that I was doing this more in the way of a painter than in the way of a scientist. I could not count on precision or calculation; I could only count on intuition.


Carole King


My creativity is an entity unto its own.


Being alone gave me a chance to process what my senses took in without having to factor in other people’s opinions.


Performing wasn’t something to fear; it was a merely a larger circle of collaboration. The more I communicated my joy to the audience, the more joy they communicated back to me.


Once the inspiration comes, that directs where the perspiration goes.


Larry L. King


Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.


Martin Luther King, Jr.


Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.


Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.


Stephen King


The road to hell is paved with adverbs.    


Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. 


The writer must have a good imagination to begin with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding and revising.


If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.


In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives.


The scariest moment is always just before you start.


Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.


An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.

Barbara Kingsolver

I'm of a fearsome mind to throw my arms around every living librarian who crosses my path, on behalf of the souls they never knew they saved.

Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.

Libraries are the one American institution you shouldn't rip off.

The truth needs so little rehearsal.


Maxine Hong Kingston


In a time of destruction, create something: a poem, a parade, a community, a school, a vow, a moral principle; one peaceful moment.

Allen Ginsberg instructs: "First thought, best thought." Oh, to have my every spontaneous thought count as poetry! No draft after draft like a draft horse. Clayton Eshleman, laughing, said, "'First thought best thought' is not 'First word best word ' Ginsberg does rewrite. I'm sure he does.”

Galway Kinnell


Turn on the dream you lived through the unwavering gaze. It is as you thought: The living burn. In the floating days may you discover grace.

W.P. Kinsella


Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.


Jarod Kinty


Laughter is the sound of the soul dancing.


Arthur Koestler


Creative activity could be described as a type of learning process where teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.


The principal mark of genius is not perfection but originality, the opening of new frontiers.

Yusef Komunyakaa

Poetry helps me understand who I am. It helps me understand the world around me. But above all, what poetry has taught me is the fact that I need to embrace mystery in order to be completely human.

It wasn't a deliberate decision to become a poet. It was something I found myself doing - and loving. Language became an addiction.

I define poetry as celebration and confrontation. When we witness something, are we responsible for what we witness? That's an on-going existential question. Perhaps we are and perhaps there's a kind of daring, a kind of necessary energetic questioning. Because often I say it's not what we know, it's what we can risk discovering.

It wasn't a deliberate decision to become a poet. It was something I found myself doing - and loving. Language became an addiction.


I think of my poems as personal and public at the same time. You could say they serve as psychological overlays. One fits on top of the other, and hopefully there's an ongoing evolution of clarity.

Poets are seen as the caretakers of language, so working with words no matter what the form is what we do.

Students often have such a lofty idea of what a poem is, and I want them to realize that their own lives are where the poetry comes from. The most important things are to respect the language; to know the classical rules, even if only to break them; and to be prepared to edit, to revise, to shape.

I am this space my body believes in.

Poetry is a process of getting back to the unconscious. Hence, I am always writing-even when I’m not facing the white space. I feel writers are like reservoirs of images. We take in what is around us.

I like connecting the abstract to the concrete. There’s a tension in that. I believe the reader or listener should be able to enter the poem as a participant. So I try to get past resolving poems.

Ted Kooser

The poem is the device through which the ordinary world is seen in a new way - engaging, compelling, even beautiful.

There's nothing wrong with delighting in what you do. In fact, most of the fun you'll have as a poet will come about during the process of writing.

A poem is a record of discovery.

If I don't take the risk, I'll wind up with a bloodless poem. I have to be out there on the edge.


​Wisdom is easy to carry but difficult to load.

Stanley Kunitz

End with an image and don't explain.

Moon in Oregon City.webp
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