Writing is survival. Writing is sticking a flag in the terrain of your life & making a claim on the territory. Writing is confirmation, a telegram from you to yourself, telling you that you’re still alive. Writing is the last outpost of vital, independent thought in lobotomized times. Writing is a proactive act in a prescribed world. Writing is a connection to our innate wellspring of creativity, which is our connection to the magical box of tricks which is the universe. Imagination is the umbilical chord connecting us to god – creating is the closest we get to being gods ourselves.
A literary influence is never just a literary influence. It’s also an influence in the way you see everything—in the way you feel your life.
…the idea of alienation. And loss. I believe that that’s the beginning of poetry. Poetry begins with alienation, and poetry speaks against our vanishing. The lyric poem in particular seems to me to have the burden and the splendor of preserving the human image in words, as the most intense form of discourse. Poetry speaks about and against loss in its root function. I see the writing of a poem as a descent. The descent is psychological. That which is darkest in human experience. It can be in yourself, it can be in others, it can be in the death of someone you love. It’s a descent into the unconscious. You try to unearth something. You try to bring something to the light.
— Edward Hirsch (via ahuntersheart)
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”
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 write to you from the other side of the shadow
I write to you
so I do not vanish
so the words reveal me
so you hear more than the void
In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I do to any person; I create myself. The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather—in many cases—offers an alternative to it.
—Susan Sontag, Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963
At night when everyone is silent and everything is still, I lie in the darkness of my windowless room, the place where they exile me from the community of their heart, and search the unmoving blackness to see if I can find my way home. I tell myself stories, write poems, record my dreams. In my journal I write—I belong in this place of words. This is my home. This dark, bone black inner cave where I am making a world for myself.
—bell hooks, Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood
I read poems. I write. That is my destiny. Standing on the edge of the cliff about to fall into the abyss, I remember who I am. I am a young poet, a writer. I am here to make words. I have the power to pull myself back from death—to keep myself alive.
—bell hooks, Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood
My night awake
staring at the broad rough jewel
the copper roof across the way
thinking of the poet
yet unborn in this dark
who will be the throat of these hours.
No. Of those hours.
Who will speak these days,
if not I,
if not you?
—Muriel Rukeyser, from “The Speed of Darkness”
“Words bother me. I think it is why I am a poet. I keep trying to force myself to speak of the things that remain mute inside. My poems only come when I have almost lost the ability to utter a word. To speak, in a way, of the unspeakable. To make an object out of the chaos…To say what? A final cry into the void.”
— Anne Sexton, from a letter to Dennis Farrell, August 2, 1963
"Writing: a way of leaving no space for death, of pushing back forgetfulness, of never letting oneself be surprised by the abyss. Of never becoming resigned, consoled; never turning over in bed to face the wall and drift asleep again as if nothing had happened; as if nothing could happen."
— Hélène Cixous, “Coming to Writing and other Essays”
"Sometimes fear grips me that these fragile moments of life will fade away. It seems that I write against erasure."
"It’s not on paper that you create but in your innards, in the gut and out of living tissue - organic writing I call it. A poem works for me not when it says what I want it to say and not when it evokes what I want it to. It works when the subject I started out with metamorphoses alchemically into a different one, one that has been discovered, or uncovered, by the poem. It works when it surprises me, when it says something I have repressed or pretended not to know. The meaning and worth of my writing is measured by how much I put myself on the line and how much nakedness I achieve."
— Gloria Anzaldúa, ”Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to Third World Women Writers” (via uber-alles)
"I chose to be a writer in girlhood because books rescued me. They were the places where I could bring the broken bits and pieces of myself and put them together again, the places where I could dream about alternative realities, possible futures. They let me know firsthand that if the mind was to be the site of resistance, only the imagination could make it so. To imagine, then, was a way to begin the process of transforming reality. All that we cannot imagine will never come into being."
— bell hooks, “Narratives of Struggle” (via redheadbouquet)