“pain bruises us all to a more intimate shade—
how green were the birds in the gardens
of my youth, how ripe and painted the sun”—Breyten Breytenbach, from “Dreams Are Also Wounds” (translated by André Brink)
“Of the many mysteries attending Plath (for example, whether or not she’d meant to kill herself — she’d stuck her head in the oven, true, but had left a note for her neighbor instructing him to ‘call Dr. Horder,’ a note she possibly expected him to find in time to save her), this was the one that most fascinated me — no matter how many photographs I’d seen of her, I had no idea what she looked like. Each new photograph undermined the believability of the others, as though she’d been, even while alive, unwilling to commit to her own face.”—Heidi Julavits, The Vanishers
“We must leave evidence. Evidence that we were here, that we existed, that we survived and loved and ached. Evidence of the wholeness we never felt and the immense sense of fullness we gave to each other. Evidence of who we were, who we thought we were, who we never should have been. Evidence for each other that there are other ways to live—past survival; past isolation.”—Mia Mingus
“When my words were wheat
I was earth.
When my words were anger
I was storm.
When my words were rock
I was river.
When my words turned honey
Flies covered my lips.”—Mahmoud Darwish, “Words” (translated by Rana Kabbani)
“everything is lost except words […] at a certain moment for the person who has lost everything, whatever that is, moreover, a being or a country, language becomes the country […] In the beginning the gesture of writing is linked to the experience of disappearance, to the feeling of having lost the key to the world, of having been thrown outside. Of having urgently to regain the entrance, the breath, to keep the trace.”— Leora Skolkin-Smith, “On Helene Cixous’ So Close" (via Time Immemorial)
“Language and, presumably, literature are more ancient and inevitable, more durable than any form of social organization. The revulsion, irony, or indifference often expressed by literature toward the state is essentially the reaction of the permanent—better yet, the infinite—against the temporary, against the finite.”—Joseph Brodsky
“I scatter my voice to the four corners of the town
the water shapes time there
I mingle my body with the fragrances that emerge from night”—Abdourahman Waberi, from “Truce" (translated by Patrick Williamson)
“What to do with this grief today? I don’t know what good is sadness unless we stand still with it, hold it under the tongue, savor it, and say to ourselves, “Here I am, if I had any doubt at all, here I am.”—Sandra Cisneros from her April 14, 2011 letter (via popca)
“Water: no matter how much, there is still not enough.
Come rain, come thunder, come deluged dams washed away,
Our thirst is unquenchable. A cloud in the water’s a siren.
We become two shades, deliquescent, drowning in song.”—Marin Sorescu, from “Fountains in the Sea” (translated by Seamus Heaney and Joana Russell-Gebbett)
“Down there the scent of the sap and the flowers from the many gardens near the coast used to intoxicate me, and I wanted to burrow my fingers in the dark burning earth. I would roam about and try to remember your face, and draw in the perfume of your body. I would stretch my arms out in the air to touch as much as possible of your sunlight.”—Henri Barbusse, Hell (translated by Edward J. O’Brien)
“I am more sensitive than other people. Things that other people would not notice awaken a distinct echo in me, and in such moments of lucidity, when I look at myself, I see that I am alone, all alone, all alone.”—Henri Barbusse, Hell (translated by Edward J. O’Brien)
“A poet worth reading lives in the present, which keeps changing continuously into something else. What worked yesterday in poetry won’t work today, so a poet has no choice but to find means to confront the times he lives in. What doesn’t change, however, is that we are still what we were centuries ago, minds reading themselves for clues to the meaning of their existence, astonished now and then to be alive, while being acutely aware of their own mortality.”—Charles Simic, “Poetry and Utopia”
“In a sense, it seems I am drowning; already half-drowned to the ordinary dimensions of space and time, I know that I must drown, as it were, completely in order to come out on the other side of things (like Alice with her looking-glass or Perseus with his mirror). I must drown completely and come out on the other side, or rise to the surface after the third time down, not dead to this life but with a new set of values, my treasures dredged from the depth. I must be born again or break utterly.”—H. D., Tribute to Freud (via proustitute)
“I exist only when I am writing. I am nothing when I am not writing. I am fully a stranger to myself, when I am not writing. Yet when I am writing, you cannot see me. No one can see me. You can watch a director directing, a singer singing, an actor acting, but no one can see what writing is.”—Ingeborg Bachmann in her acceptance speech for the Anton-Wildgans-Preis received in 1972. (via rimeswriting)
“I write about what I love. I love writing even more than what I write about. And what do I do it for? To love myself, if only for a brief while.”—Vera Pavlova, from “Heaven Is Not Verbose: A Notebook”, translated by Steven Seymour (via litverve)
“When I am lonely for boys it’s their bodies I miss. I study their hands lifting the cigarettes in the darkness of the movie theaters, the slope of a shoulder, the angle of a hip. Looking at them sideways, I examine them in different lights. My love for them is visual: that is the part of them I would like to possess. Don’t move, I think. Stay like that, let me have that.”—Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye
“Often she had seemed to herself to be moving among those vanished figures of old books and pictures, an invisible ghost among the living, better acquainted with them than with her own friends. She very nearly lost consciousness that she was a separate being, with a future of her own.”—Virginia Woolf, Night And Day. (via fuckyeahvirginiawoolf)