In Winnipeg, a fifteen-year-old once scribbled:
I want to write something
one will question and then change his religion.
—Gillian Sze, from “Blood Sign #2”
I love many poets. Here are my top 5:
Here is a list of writers and books that I recommend:
This earth will grow cold,
a star among stars
and one of the smallest,
a gilded mote on blue velvet—
I mean this, our great earth.
This earth will grow cold one day,
not like a block of ice
or a dead cloud even
but like an empty walnut it will roll along
in pitch-black space …
You must grieve for this right now
—you have to feel this sorrow now—
for the world must be loved this much
if you’re going to say “I lived”…
—Nazim Hikmet, from “On Living" translated by Mutlu Konuk and Randy Blasing
As writers, I believe it is among our tasks to see the world and then to translate that witnessing into words.
—Elana Bell, “Living on that Land: A Conversation with Elana Bell”
I was made of delicate substance, mysterious time.
Perhaps the source is within me.
Perhaps the days emerge,
fatal and illusory,
from my shadow.
To be alive at all is to have scars.
The world is too brutal for me—I am glad there is such a thing as the grave—I am sure I shall never have any rest till I get there.
—John Keats, from a letter to Fanny Brawne, 8 August 1820
"I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual. I like, I see, to question people about death. I have taken it into my head that I shan’t live until 70. Suppose, I said to myself the other day this pain over my heart suddenly wrung me out like a dish cloth & left me dead?-I was feeling sleepy, indifferent, & calm; & so thought it didn’t much matter, except for L. Then, some bird or light I daresay, or waking wider, set me off wishing to live on my own-wishing chiefly to walk along the river & look at things."
— Virginia Woolf in her diary, Friday 17 1922 (via vwvw)
The French called this time of day “l’heure bleue.” To the English it was “the gloaming.” The very word “gloaming” reverberates, echoes—the gloaming, the glimmer, the glitter, the glisten, the glamour—carrying in its consonants the images of houses shuttering, gardens darkening, grass-lined rivers slipping through the shadows. During the blue nights you think the end of day will never come. As the blue nights draw to a close (and they will, and they do) you experience an actual chill, an apprehension of illness, at the moment you first notice: the blue light is going, the days are already shortening, the summer is gone.
Do you also believe that what gives our lives their meaning is the passion that suddenly invades us heart, soul, and body, and burns in us forever, no matter what else happens in our lives? And that if we have experienced this much, then perhaps we haven’t lived in vain? Is passion so deep and terrible and magnificent and inhuman? Is it indeed about desiring any one person, or is it about desiring desire itself?
—Sándor Márai, Embers
My hands have so often touched the frozen palms of the dead, and the warm, strong palms of the living. They know how to caress unusually by touch losing the space that separates existence from existence, and heaven from earth. My hands knowing the pain of helplessness cling to each other like two frightened birds, homeless, blindly seeking everywhere the trace of your hands.
—Halina Poswiatowska, from “Ode to Hands" translated by Anna Gąsienica-Byrcyn