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Quotations N--O

Vladimir Nabokov


Between the wolf in the tall grass and the wolf in the tall story there is a shimmering go-between. That go-between, that prism, is the art of literature.


Our imagination flies—we are its shadow on the earth.


Linda Naiman


When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity.


Pablo Neruda


I come to speak for your dead mouths.


I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests.


Poetry is an act of peace.    


The books that help you most are those which make you think the most. The hardest way of learning is that of easy reading; but a great book that comes from a great thinker is a ship of thought, deep freighted with truth and beauty.


Louise Nevelson


You must create your own world. I'm responsible for my world.


Hieu Minh Nguyen


Time is a conversation that continues to move whether or not you are paying attention.


Friedrich Nietzsche


One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.


Poets are shameless with their experiences: they exploit them.


The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.


Style ought to prove that one believes in an idea; not only that one thinks it but also feels it.


Florence Nightingale


I attribute my success to this—I never gave or took any excuse.


How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.


Anaïs Nin    


We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.


Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.


It is in the movements of emotional crisis that human beings reveal themselves most accurately.


The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.


Love never dies a natural death. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.


Sigrid Nunez


How lucky to have discovered that writing books made the miraculous possible: to be removed from the world and to be a part of the world at the same time.


Joyce Carol Oates


The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.


The effort of art is to slow the rapid motion, to bring it to a halt so that it can be seen, known.


My reputation for writing quickly and effortlessly notwithstanding, I am strongly in favor of intelligent, even fastidious revision, which is, or certainly should be, an art in itself.


We are linked by blood, and blood is memory without language.


I think all art comes out of conflict. When I write I am always looking for the dramatic kernel of an event, the junctures of people's lives when they go in one direction, not another. 


In love there are two things--bodies and words.


My theory is that literature is essential to society in the way that dreams are essential to our lives. We can't live without dreaming--as we can't live without sleep. We are 'conscious' beings for only a limited period of time, then we sink back into sleep--the 'unconscious.' It is nourishing, in ways we can't fully understand.


If food is poetry, is not poetry also food?


Don’t try to anticipate an ideal reader—or any reader. He/she might exist—but is reading someone else.


Flannery O’Connor


There is something in us, as storytellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be offered the chance to be restored.


Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.

Desmond O'Grady

I saw my life and I walked out to it as a seaman walks out alone at night from his house down to the port with his bundled belongings, and sails into the dark.


Georgia O’Keefe


Nobody sees a flower, really. It is so small. We haven’t time—and to see takes time like to have a friend takes time.


Well, I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if i think and see what you think and see of the flower—and I don’t.

Sharon Olds

Poets are like steam valves, where the ordinary feelings of ordinary people can escape and be shown.

Writing or making anything-a poem, a bird feeder, a chocolate cake-has self-respect in it. You're working. You're trying. You're not lying down on the ground, having given up.

Poems come from ordinary experiences and objects, I think. Out of memory - a dress I lent my daughter on her way back to college; a newspaper photograph of war; a breast self-exam; the tooth fairy; Calvinist parents who beat up their children; a gesture of love; seeing oneself naked over age 50 in a set of bright hotel bathroom mirrors.

Mary Oliver


Poetry is a life-cherishing force. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.


Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.


Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too was a gift.


The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.


Tillie Olsen


Not to have an audience is a kind of death.


Every woman who writes is a survivor.


Compared to men writers of like distinction and years of life, few women writers have had lives of unbroken productivity, or leave behind a 'body of work.' Early    beginnings, then silence; or clogged late ones (foreground silences); long periods between books (hidden silences); characterize most of us.


Eugene O’Neill


There is no present or future--only the past, happening over and over again.


Susan Orlean


You have to simply love writing, and you have to remind yourself often that you love it.


Gregory Orr


Poetry is about survival first of all. Survival of the individual self, survival of the emotional life.

Simon J. Ortiz

It is amazing how much knowledge we have of hope. Whisper bravely into the dark, heart — whisper bravely


George Orwell


Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.


When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.


Sheer egoism . . . Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen—in short, with the whole top crust of humanity.


By using stale metaphors, similes and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.


Ronald E. Osborne


Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.




To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.


Creativity is the greatest rebellion in existence. 


Wilfred Owen


All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful.

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