The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.
South Shore, Long Island
I flood myself with the light of the immense. Photo by Mary Christine Delea
The universe doesn't like secrets. It conspires to reveal the truth, to lead you to it.
Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead. So why, one could say, be afraid of death, when death comes all the time?
In a country this large and a language even larger . . . there ought to be a living for somebody who cares and wants to entertain and instruct a reader.
Writing is only reading turned inside out.
Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.
Célestine Hitiura Vaite
It takes courage for a fruit to fall far from her tree.
When I started writing I didn’t feel intimidated at all because I thought, ‘It’s just like telling a story!’ A lot of people feel overwhelmed or think ‘I’ve got to be clever,’ but I thought it was just a story, and I come from a strong story-telling culture.
I really believe in reading . . . so my mission is to increase the literacy rate because at the moment, still only people from the middle-class read, poor people don’t read—the literacy rate among Tahitians is very low.
There is in you what is beyond you.
The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.
Abigail Van Buren
The best index to a person's character is how he treats people who can't do him any good, and how he treats people who can't fight back.
Vincent Van Gogh
Great things are not done by impulse, but a series of small things brought together.
Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas.
Constant work, constant writing and constant revision. The real writer learns nothing from life. He is more like an oyster or a sponge. What he takes in he takes in normally, the way any person takes in experience. But it is what is done with it in his mind, if he is a real writer, that makes his art.
Vanessa Angélica Villarreal
Not enough is said or written about the lost art of middle school note writing! The codes, the intricate envelope origami!
When I started writing poetry more seriously, I became obsessed with liminality, hybridity, formal experimentation, duende. I was always drawn to lyric and image, but I wanted to give it dimension beyond the line and work more with how the poem could appear on the page, how visual play could add tension. I wanted to write into the silences of my adolescence, go back to sites of guilt and shame and illuminate them, exonerate the girl I was. These memories were inevitably also queer spaces, times my body was in conflict with the world, with authority, in trouble, alienated, vulnerable. To write about race, gender, and colonial violence is to write about the failure of normativity, write against imposed roles, write against domination.
Ellen Bryant Voigt
There’s no right way for a poem to begin, or unfold. At some point in the process, the poet needs to look at the word choices, the rhythm, the images, the tone, the structure, all of it. When one does what — that is so much a matter of temperament, and may also change from poem to poem. It always feels like a mystery, and a gift — which is why we throw up our hands and call it inspiration. We don’t have sufficient access to our own brains to explain it any other way.
Set aside whatever editors may or may not prefer, since that’s the business of publishing, not writing.
When meter is honored over rhythm, line over syntax, form over structure, even the most prodigious manipulation of traditional patterns may be rendered purely decorative.
I’ve learned a great deal about a particular connection between language and music: that is, the crucial role of syntactical rhythm in the way the brain processes both spoken and written language.
Any poem can start anywhere.
Ignorance is extremely dangerous — it doesn’t enhance a life but restricts it. At the same time, knowledge is also dangerous; it leads us to overlook things, to assume things, to fall in love with categories and systems. The poem is actually about power, whatever its source (and knowledge is indeed a power), and its limitations.
Almost all poems have some inherent aural component.
Beyond this constitutional similarity, poetry has other connections to music as well, especially if you think of music as not just sounds but as an architecture. And I try to analyze this also in the book. The main thing to remember, though, is that while there are resemblances, there are also huge differences between the two; even if poems “aspire to the condition of music,” as Walter Pater put it, they are in language, and the rhythmic elements of pitch and duration, for instance, are much more variable, less easily quantified.
Dare to think for yourself.
I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
Common sense is genius in homespun.
Judge of a man by his questions rather than by his answers.
If there were no God, it would be necessary to invent him.
A witty saying proves nothing.
It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.
Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.
Roger Von Oech
Remember the two benefits of failure. First, if you do fail, you learn what doesn’t work; and second, the failure gives you the opportunity to try a new approach.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.
Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?
The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.
To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.
I wonder if balance is possible, but I think in attempting it, we begin to parse out who we are, what made us, where we are going—all of which are means toward self-knowledge.
They say nothing lasts forever but they're just scared it will last longer than they can love it.
The gaze, human or animal, is a powerful thing. When we look at something, we decide to fill our entire existence, however briefly, with that very thing.
Remember: The rules, like streets, can only take you to known places.
No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.
Don't wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you've got to make yourself.
For in the end, freedom is a personal and lonely battle; and one faces down fears of today so that those of tomorrow might be engaged.
In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful.
Look closely at the present you’re constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming.
Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul.
The great male writers of the European tradition, be it Proust, Tolstoy, Turgenev, deemed that those most inspiring to them existed in a white aristocracy. You read those books and you wouldn’t even know that people of colour existed in Europe. To each his own, and that was their choice. But I wanted to say: these lives, of women, and even of poor white people--these lives are worthy of literature. As Turgenev looked at the crumbling Russian empire, I look at these folks in a different crumbling empire and deemed that these are inspiring lives to an artist.
Time moves slowly, but passes quickly.
People who work hard often work too hard. ... May we learn to honor the hammock, the siesta, the nap and the pause in all its forms.
There's no diploma in the world that declares you as an artist—it's not like becoming a doctor. You can declare yourself an artist and then figure out how to be an artist.
Silhouettes are reductions, and racial stereotypes are also reductions of actual human beings.
A lot of my work has been about the unexpected—that kind of wanting to be the heroine and yet wanting to kill the heroine at the same time. That kind of dilemma—that push and pull—is the underlying turbulence that I bring to each of the pieces that I make.
David Foster Wallace
Good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.
Robert Penn Warren
For what is a poem but a hazardous attempt at self-understanding: it is the deepest part of autobiography.
Booker T. Washington
If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.
Character is power.
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
In science we must always begin by asking questions, not giving answers. In this way, we contribute to the joy of insight. For science is the opposite of knowledge. Science is curiosity.
Carrie Mae Weems
Art is the one place we all turn to for solace.
Despite the variety of my explorations, throughout it all it has been my contention that my responsibility as an artist is to work, to sing for my supper, to make art, beautiful and powerful, that adds and reveals; to beautify the mess of a messy world, to heal the sick and feed the helpless; to shout bravely from the roof-tops and storm barricaded doors and voice the specifics of our historic moment.
I didn't know photography would take me to the places that it has taken me.
I think ethnic and regional labels are insulting to writers and really put restrictions on them. People don't think your work is quite as universal.
There is no dishonor in wisdom.
Richard Hugo taught me that anyone with a desire to write, an ear for language and a bit of imagination could become a writer. He also, in a way, gave me permission to write about northern Montana.
I am definitely a storyteller, but probably not a traditional Storyteller.
Valerie Wilson Wesley
Boredom is what you fight. Constant, ever-present boredom. So you learn to look forward to small things. Sunlight glimpsed through a cloud, an extra piece of pie or candy, good thread to sew your blouse, a ribbon to wear in your hair.
Black children need to see their lives reflected in the books they read. If they don't, they won't feel welcome in the world of literature. The lives of African-Americans are rich and diverse, and the books our children read should reflect that.
No art ever came out of not risking your neck.
All serious daring starts from within.
Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own introspective way into becoming a part of it.
The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order the continuous thread of revelation.
The excursion is the same when you go looking for your sorrow as when you go looking for your joy.
Never think you've seen the last of anything.
Writers and travelers are mesmerized alike by knowing of their destinations.
Writing a story or a novel is one way of discovering sequence in experience, of stumbling upon cause and effect in the happenings of a writer's own life.
You have a more interesting life if you wear impressive clothes.
I'm not trying to do something different, I'm trying to do the same thing but in a different way.
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope.
After all, one knows one's weak points so well, that it's rather bewildering to have the critics overlook them and invent others.
Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.
There are lots of ways of being miserable, but there’s only one way of being comfortable, and that is to stop running round after happiness. If you make up your mind not to be happy there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a fairly good time.
The real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend!
Ah, good conversation--there's nothing like it, is there? The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing.
The world is a severe schoolmaster.
A poet dares be just so clear and no clearer... He unzips the veil from beauty, but does not remove it. A poet utterly clear is a trifle glaring.
Writing is not an exercise in excision, it’s a journey into sound.
Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.
Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down.
It is failure that guides evolution; perfection provides no incentive for improvement, and nothing is perfect.
The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.
I like the scientific spirit – the holding off, the being sure but not too sure, the willingness to surrender ideas when the evidence is against them: this is ultimately fine – it always keeps the way beyond open – always gives life, thought, affection, the whole man, a chance to try over again after a mistake – after a wrong guess.
I have learned that to be with those I like is enough.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.
Either define the moment or the moment will define you.
This is what you should do: love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men ... re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss what insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem.
Edna Gardner Whyte
I'll show you what a woman can do. I'll go across the country, I'll race to the moon . . . I'll never look back.
If you’re creating anything at all, it’s really dangerous to care about what people think.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
There’s no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can circumvent or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.
To sin in silence while others doth protest makes cowards out of men.
Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone; For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth, But has trouble enough of its own.
A weed is but an unloved flower.
Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.
It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.
A poet can survive everything but a misprint.
To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.
The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.
I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.
The truth is rarely pure and never simple.
Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary.
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
People are never so trivial as when they take themselves very seriously.
Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute?
Sometimes questions are more important than answers.
I haven’t a clue how my story will end, but that’s all right. When you set out on a journey and night covers the road, that’s when you discover the stars.
We don’t really understand something until we have forgotten it.
If prayers worked, Hitler would have been stopped at the border of Poland by angels with swords of fire.
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.
William Carlos Williams
But all art is sensual and poetry particularly so. It is directly, that is, of the senses, and since the senses do not exist without an object for their employment all art is necessarily objective. It doesn’t declaim or explain, it presents.
In summer, the song sings itself.
The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance, and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.
A writer must be able to distinguish one day's light from another’s.
Was not writing poetry a secret transaction, a voice answering a voice?
Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.
Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.
I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.
Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.
Books are the mirrors of the soul.
Why are women . . . so much more interesting to men than men are to women?
If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.
As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.
I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.
When you consider things like the stars, our affairs don't seem to matter very much, do they?
The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.
No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.
Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack.
A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
What is the meaning of life? That was all- a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.
It would be a thousand pities if women wrote like men, lived like men . . .
When not deeply engaged in creative activities, or numbed out by the TV, I felt empty. My heart hurt. I often felt hollow or as if I were some sort of wispy ghost, barely existing.
Feelings or emotions are the universal language and are to be honored. They are the authentic expression of who you are at your deepest place.
Poetry is something that comes to you, rather than your having to work out its form beforehand.
Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.
Whenever my environment had failed to support or nourish me, I had clutched at books.
All literature is protest.
The artist must bow to the monster of his own imagination.
Poets, like whores, are only hated by each other.
I am better able to imagine hell than heaven.
I bear a little more than a can bear.
Though nobody can go back and make a new beginning . . . Anyone can start over and make a new ending.
I think perfection is ugly. Somewhere in the things humans make, I want to see scars, failure, disorder, distortion.
With my eyes turned to the past, I walk backwards into the future.
William Butler Yeats
We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.
There is another world, but it is in this one.
Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.
Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.
I get the ideas from everything. Children sometimes think you have to have special experiences to write, but good writing brings out what's special in ordinary things.
Poetry is like a bird; it ignores all frontiers.
When truth is replaced by silence,the silence is a lie.
I do not like poems that resemble hay compressed into a geometrically perfect cube. I like it when the hay, unkempt, uncombed, with dry berries mixed in it, thrown together gaily and freely, bounces along atop some truck-and more, if there are some lovely and healthy lasses atop the hay-and better yet if the branches catch at the hay, and some of it tumbles to the road.
Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.
There is something about poetry beyond prose logic, there is mystery in it, not to be explained but admired.
Writing doesn’t require too much energy—it is a relaxation and a joy.
We travel carrying our words.
Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.