“'Nightwood' is itself. It is its own created world, exotic and strange, and reading it is like drinking wine with a pearl dissolving in the glass. You have taken in more than you know, and it will go on doing its work. From now on, a part of you is pearl-lined.”—Jeanette Winterson, from the Preface to Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
“Anne Sexton sometimes seemed like a woman without skin. She felt everything so intensely, had so little capacity to filter out pain that everyday events often seemed unbearable to her. Paradoxically it is also that skinlessness which makes a poet. One must have the gift of language, but even a great gift is useless without the other curse: the eyes that see so sharply they often want to close.”—Erica Jong on the poet Anne Sexton (via cameliaoaks)
“His soul was swooning into some new world, fantastic, dim, uncertain as under sea, traversed by cloudy shapes and beings. A world, a glimmer, or a flower? Glimmering and trembling, trembling and unfolding, a breaking light, an opening flower, it spread in endless succession to itself, breaking in full crimson and unfolding and fading to palest rose, leaf by leaf and wave of light by wave of light, flooding all the heavens with its soft flushes, every flush deeper than the other.”—James Joyce, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
“He closed his eyes, surrendering himself to her, body and mind, conscious of nothing in the world but the dark pressure of her softly parting lips. They pressed upon his brain as upon his lips as though they were the vehicle of a vague speech; and between them he felt an unknown and timid pressure, darker than the swoon of sin, softer than sound or odour.”—James Joyce, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
“I really do think that art can save you in some sense. It’s the last meaning, unless you’re religious—and I’m not religious. It’s the only secular vehicle for transcendence we have. It’s an immediate self-validating experience. It lifts you beyond your mortal clay.”—Sam Savage, Poets & Writers Sept/Oct 2011 (via lesmotsjustes)
“Look around you. Everyone seems to have one foot in the air. One would think that we are all in transit. No one has a fixed sphere of existence; there are no proper habits, no rules that govern anything. We do not even have homes; there is nothing to tie us down, nothing that arouses our sympathies and affections, nothing enduring, nothing lasting. Everything passes, flows away, leaving no trace either outside or within us. In our homes, we are like guests; to our families, we are like strangers; and in our cities we seem like nomads, more so than those who wander our steppes, for they are more attached to their deserts than we are to our towns…”—Petr Chaadaev, Philosophical Letters Addressed to a Lady, 1829, trans. Nathaniel Knight (thanks, wood s lot)
“It is in moments of illness that we are compelled to recognize that we live not alone but chained to a creature of a different kingdom, whole worlds apart, who has no knowledge of us and by whom it is impossible to make ourselves understood: our body.”—Marcel Proust (via ribbedatum)
“The true life is not reducible to words spoken or written, not by anyone, ever. The true life takes place when we’re alone, thinking, feeling, lost in memory, dreamingly self-aware, the submicroscopic moments.”—From Point Omega by Don DeLillo. (via bookoflead)
“I went to the end of the paddock where the willows grew and bathed in the creek. The water was clear and soft as oil. Along the edges held by the grass and rushes, white foam tumbled and bubbled. I lay in the water and looked up at the trees that were still a moment, then quivered lightly, and again were still. The air smelt of rain.”—Katherine Mansfield, “The Woman at the Store” (via katherine-mansfield)
The Modernism Lab is a virtual space dedicated to collaborative research into the roots of literary modernism. We hope, by a process of shared investigation, to describe the emergence of modernism out of a background of social, political, and existential ferment. The project begins with the period 1914-1926, from the outbreak of the first world war to the full-blown emergence of English modernism. The Lab supports undergraduate courses on Modern Poetry, the Modern British Novel, and Joyce’s Ulysses and a graduate course in English and Comparative Literature, “Moderns, 1914-1926.” Students in the classes contribute materials to the website and use it as the platform for their ongoing research. The main components of the website are an innovative research tool, YNote, containing information on the activities of 24 leading modernist writers during this crucial period and a wiki consisting of brief interpretive essays on literary works and movements of the period.
“Oh what a grind it is embodying all these ideas and having perpetually to expose my mind, opened and intensified as it is by the heat of creation, to the blasts of the outer world. If I didn’t feel so much, how easy it would be to go on.”—Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated 18 March 1935 (via proustitute)
“Naipaul says he can tell
right away if a writer’s a woman
or a man—the difference
being her narrowness of scope
and excess sentimentality; his
universality and grandness of theme,
his liberty and largesse.
But I’m not at all impressed
by these men I’ve been reading—
with their endless, melancholy verses
about sex with a prostitute
and their appointment of women
as symbols—the woman, a woman,
a woman’s hair, a woman’s voice, a woman’s hand—
oh, it goes on and on. The Platonic Form
of Woman like a magic, literary wand
waved over the page. A woman in bed,
a woman standing on a street corner,
and going from rooms, talking
(about great men, of course).
All it takes is the mere mention of woman.
And the whole burden
of the man’s psyche—
the whole world-weary, age-old, masterly, genius
of the male psyche—
rises off the page like vapor from a mystic’s bowl […]
These tedious “universals”
that make particular only the man
and his struggles (poor man! how he struggles!)
with sexual satisfaction,
professional success, power, and recognition. And recognition
of his power and sexual success.
Even in its absence,
the suggestion lingers:
This man is a lover, this man is a man—
perhaps not yet,
but someday to be reckoned with.
“The woman” has seduced him,
or teased him, cheated him, or worse of all sins
Wait! Worse yet, failed to praise him,
to coo, whet, and lick
his potential. […]
I’ve sent my verses about fucking
men to the editors again and again.
And those guys keep rejecting me,
my poem, my gender.
(Or is it the sex?) Now, thanks to Naipaul,
the truth is out: They can tell in a second
my sex by my topic, by my subject.
But I’ve grown to suspect that rather
it’s my perspective
on the very same subject
to which they object.
So here’s the easy rejoinder:
I’m just being reactionary.
This is simpleminded ressentiment.
(Yeah, leave it to Nietzsche
to make all reaction effete,
all women sheep.)
But don’t fail to notice
that saying that is reaction, too,
such an easy ploy: to silence
by making it seem that any response
is whining. (Go ahead, call me shrill.)
This time, guys, I made it easy.
Just read the title,
and you’ll know, like Naipaul,
it’s the second sex
you’re up against.
(Call it literary frottage.)
Then you can forget it.
(Tell me to calm down, while you’re at it.)”—from ‘Poem Composed While Waiting for the Gynecologist To Come In’, by Brook Sadler, in response to writer V.S. Naipaul’s comments about women being inferior writers to men. (via trenchantashell)
“Standing on the side
of the fountains in Paris where the water
blew onto me when I was fifteen. It was night.
It was dark then too and I was alone.
Why didn’t you find me? Why didn’t
somebody find me all those years? The form
of love was purity. An art. An architecture.
Maybe a train. Maybe the shadow of a statue
and the statue with its front turned away
from me. Maybe one young girl playing alone,
hearing even small sounds ring off cobblestones
and the stone walls…”—Linda Gregg, from “Looking for Each of Us”
“She became aware of something about her. With an effort, she roused herself, to see what it was that penetrated her consciousness. The tall white lilies were reeling in the moonlight, and the air was charged with their perfume, as with a presence. Mrs. Morel gasped slightly in fear. She touched the big, pallid flowers on their petals, then shivered. They seemed to be stretching in the moonlight. She put her hand into one white bin: the gold scarcely showed on her fingers by moonlight. She bent down, to look at the bin-ful of yellow pollen: but it only appeared dusky. Then she drank a deep draught of the scent. It almost made her dizzy.”—D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers
“Then he left her again, and joined the others. Soon they started home. Miriam loitered behind, alone. She did not fit in with the others; she could very rarely get into human relations with anyone: so her friend, her companion, her lover was nature. She saw the sun declining wanly. In the dusky, cold hedgerows were some red leaves. She lingered to gather them, tenderly, passionately. The love in her finger-tips caressed the leaves, the passion in her heart came to a glow upon the leaves.”—D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers
“He smiles, says sometimes he flips his kayak deliberately over and over in the Bay of Fundy, turning the fragmented world on its axis again and again, smoothly, almost silently, world into water, water into shimmering light.”—John Hodgen, from “High Tide” (via the-final-sentence)
“It had been a long day at the office and a long ride back to the small apartment where I lived. When I got there I flicked on the light and saw on the table an envelope with my name on it. Where was the clock? Where was the calendar? The handwriting was my father’s, but he had been dead for forty years. As one might, I began to think that maybe, just maybe, he was alive, living a secret life somewhere nearby. How else to explain the envelope? To steady myself, I sat down, opened it, and pulled out the letter. “Dear Son,” was the way it began. “Dear Son” and then nothing.”—Mark Strand, “The Mysterious Arrival of an Unusual Letter”
“The book that blew me away
held all the problems
of the world
and those of being alive
under my nose
but I felt far away from them
at the same time
reading is like that”—Mary Ruefle, from “White Buttons” (via proustitute)
“So far uneventful but rest of of the day picked up that kind of richness in which a revelling in detail becomes such a feast of experience…”—Joseph Cornell in journal entry dated January 24, 1947 (via senseofchampagnechic)
“There are times when a feeling of expectancy comes to me, as if something is there, beneath the surface of my understanding, waiting for me to grasp it.”—Sylvia Plath, undated journal entry (c. 1950 - 1953)
Three Womenis Sylvia Plath’s only play. Written as a radio play, it was originally broadcast in August of 1962, six months before Plath’s death and shortly before she would write the poems that would become Ariel. The New York Times calls it, “a forceful meditation on pregnancy and childbearing.” Its message is one of hope, strength, and love. The play has only been produced three times
How did this project come about?
One night in 2008, unable to sleep, I discovered Three Women. A lifelong fan of Plath’s work, I was immediately moved by the play and knew that it should be seen.
Three years later, I’ve decided that now is the time. After discussing the production with actors and directors, I’ve been met with enthusiasm and excitement about the project. I wrote a proposal to Faber & Faber to secure the rights for the play, and the Plath estate approved of the production and granted the rights.
Why Three Women?
Not only is Three Women a story of motherhood and womanhood, it is a story of strength and survival. It is written in Plath’s unmistakable voice - the voice that brought us The Bell Jar and the poetry of Ariel. One need only listen to Plath’s poetry read aloud to understand that the power of her work cannot be confined to the page. It is visceral, active, and gutsy.
How Can I Help?
We want this production to be of the highest quality possible to do justice to the work. This means that we will be using professional actors and directors. Funding for this project will go to securing the rights, which are $1,000.00. Additional donations (that is, donations that would exceed our $1,000.00 minimum) will go towards promoting the play, and supporting professional, local artists. Your support means that Nashville will get to experience a very powerful and very rare night of theatre from one of the most unique voices of our time.
When and Where Will This Be Performed?
We will be performing November 18 - 20. Location TBA
Follow this link to donate. Every little bit helps - even if it’s just $1.00!
“Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
Writers are often asked, How do you write? With a wordprocessor? an electric typewriter? a quill? longhand? But the essential question is, “Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?” Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas - inspiration.
If a writer cannot find this space, then poems and stories may be stillborn.
When writers talk to each other, what they discuss is always to do with this imaginative space, this other time. “Have you found it? Are you holding it fast?”