“I would rather see words out on their own, away
from their families and the warehouse of Roget,
wandering the world where they sometimes fall
in love with a completely different word.
Surely, you have seen pairs of them standing forever
next to each other on the same line inside a poem,
a small chapel where weddings like these,
between perfect strangers, can take place.”
—Billy Collins, excerpt from his poem “Thesaurus”more info
“At around age six, perhaps, I was standing by myself in our front yard waiting for supper, just at that hour in a late summer day when the sun is already below the horizon and the risen full moon in the visible sky stops being chalky and begins to take on light. There comes the moment, and I saw it then, when the moon goes from flat to round. For the first time it met my eyes as a globe. The word ‘moon’ came into my mouth as though fed to me out of a silver spoon. Held in my mouth the moon became a word. It had the roundness of a Concord grape Grandpa took off his vine and gave me to suck out of its skin and swallow whole, in Ohio.”more info
source: Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984), 10.
“Children are game for anything. I throw them hard words, and they backhand them over the net. They love words that give them a hard time, provided they are in a context that absorbs their attention. I’m lucky again—my own vocabulary is small, compared to most writers, and I tend to use the short words. So it’s no problem for me to write for children. We have a lot in common.”more info
source: The Paris Review Interviews, vol. IV (New York: Picador, 2009), 147.
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“The etymology of fiction is from fingere (participle fictum), meaning ‘to shape, fashion, form, or mold.’ Any verbal account is a fashioning and shaping of events.”more info
source: Reality Hunger (New York: Random House, 2010), 10.
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medium: Literary criticism
“The greatest step forward was made on the day that conventional signs appeared.”more info
source: Cahiers/Notebooks, Volume 4 (Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Peter Lang, 2010), 75.
“I’ve recently done a lot of experiments with scrapbooks. I’ll read in the newspaper something that reminds me of or has relation to something I’ve written. I’ll cut out the picture or article and paste it in a scrapbook beside the words from my book. Or, I’ll be walking down the street and I’ll suddenly see a scene from my book and I’ll photograph it and put it in a scrapbook…In other words, I’ve been interested in precisely how word and image get around on very, very complex association lines.”more info
source: “The Art of Fiction No. 36,” The Paris Review, interviewed by Conrad Knickerbocker, Fall 1965.
“I make drawings to suppress the unspeakable. The unspeakable is not a problem for me. It’s even the beginning of the work. It’s the reason for the work; the motivation of the work is to destroy the unspeakable.”more info
source: The Drawing Book edited by Tania Kovats (London: Black Dog Publishing, 2007), 240.
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medium: art surveyvia: Karin Schaefer
“Word by word a poem is built. The choice of one over another implies an attitude and reflects the writer’s beliefs, insights, and character. Think of forestry bosses calling the killing of trees ‘harvesting,’ or of Dick Cheney calling water boarding ‘robust interrogation.’ Albert Camus went so far as to say, ‘Naming an object inaccurately means adding to the unhappiness of the world.’”more info
source: “Holding Feathers in Your Teeth,” introduction to The Best Canadian Poetry in English (Toronto: Tightrope Books, 2010), xi.
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“Canard. That’s a good word. It’s hard to use, though, without being awkward. I’ve not found too many sentences I can put it in.”more info
source: “Governor Brown Redux: The Iceman Melteth,” by Maureen Down, The New York Times, March 5, 2011.
“A poem, as a manifestation of language and thus essentially dialogue, can be a message in a bottle, sent out in the—not always greatly hopeful—belief that somewhere and sometime it could wash up on land, on heartland perhaps. Poems in this sense too are under way: they are making toward something.”more info
source: quoted in Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew by Josh Felstiner (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press), 115.
“I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually. You don’t have to do it with bombast.”more info
source: response to the shootings in Tucson, Arizona on January 8, 2011 and our country’s tense political climate, in “Exclusive: Roger Ailes & Russell Simmons: Both Sides Are Wrong,” Global Grind, January 10, 2011.
“One of the best neologisms to bubble up during the Internet era is ‘moasting,’ a verb that combines the words moaning and boasting. Everyone moasts, sometimes, but media creatures on Twitter have perfected the form: ‘Racing from Washington for a Charlie Rose taping. What’s happened to the quiet car on the Acela?’”more info
source: book review of Bernard-Henri Lévy and Michel Houellebecq’s Public Enemies, in “Throwing Mud and Calling It Beautiful,” The New York Times, January 11, 2011.
medium: book review
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language / And next year’s words await another voice.”more info
source: “Little Gidding,” in The Waste Land and Other Poems (New York: Penguin, 2003), xxi.
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“I found that the Italian I’d learned by studying operas enabled me to talk intelligently only about poisons and suicide and tragic love affairs, and was no good at all for everyday affairs.”more info
source: “Dolores Wilson, Met Soprano, Dies at 82,” by Margalit Fox, The New York Times, October 5, 2010.
“There is no word in the language for end-of-summer sadness, but the human spirit has a word for it and picks up the first sound of its approach.”more info