Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Ten Quotes on Writing, Courtesy of Barbara Jane Reyes

Your mission, folksies, is to find and post ten quotes on writing. I'm supposed to tag someone, but in the interests of spreading love and knowledge, I tag everyone, just like Barb did.

I dedicate the last two quotes to "experimentalism," and "high editorial standards." May the privileged editors and writers who adhere to these false religions be stricken with severe and uncontrollable flatulence, followed by insatiable itching on both ears.

Don't ask a poet to explain himself. He cannot.
--Plato, The Republic

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.
--Ernest Hemingway

Nothing stinks like a pile of unpublished writing.
--Sylvia Plath

You need not expect to get your book right the first time. Go to work and revamp or rewrite it. God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God's adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by.
--Mark Twain, in a letter to Orion Clemens, March 1878.

A writer's life is a highly vulnerable, almost naked activity. We don't have to weep about that. The writer makes his choice and is stuck with it. But it is true to say that you are open to all the winds, some of them icy indeed. You are out on your own, out on a limb. You find no shelter, no protection - unless you lie - in which case of course you have constructed your own protection and, it could be argued, become a politician.
--Harold Pinter, from his 2005 Nobel Prize lecture.

I too am a descendant of Walt Whitman. And I am not by myself struggling to tell the truth about this history of so much land and so much blood, of so much that should be sacred and so much that has been desecrated and annihilated boastfully.
--June Jordan, from the essay "For the Sake of People's Poetry: Walt Whitman and the Rest of Us," which appears in her books On Call and Some of Us Did Not Die: New and Selected Essays of June Jordan.

"Now, it is true that the nature of society is to create, among its citizens, an illusion of safety; but it is also absolutely true that the safety is always necessarily an illusion. Artists are here to disturb the peace."
--James Baldwin

"A poetry articulating the dreads and horrors of our time is necessary in order to make readers understand what is happening, really understand it, not just know about it but feel it: and should be accompanied by a willingness on the part of those who write it to take additional action towards stopping the great miseries which they record."
-Denise Levertov

"The systematic looting of language can be recognized by the tendency of its users to forgo its nuanced, complex, mid-wifery properties for menace and subjugation. Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge. Whether it is obscuring state language or the faux-language of mindless media; whether it is the proud but calcified language of the academy or the commodity driven language of science; whether it is the malign language of law-without-ethics, or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek - it must be rejected, altered and exposed. It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind. Sexist language, racist language, theistic language - all are typical of the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas."
--Toni Morrison, from her 1993 Nobel Prize lecture.

"I am glad that my contemporaries and the younger ones that came after who are all my friends, most everybody in letters, Chicano-Latino letters in this country somehow have touched my life or I have touched them, they are all my friends, they are my relatives. And I embrace them and I love them and I want success for all of them. I hurt and I pain for some of them because I somehow have a different understanding of the system and the brutality of it that I know they will get eventually sucked up and they'll be writing for an editor in New York who is dictating and demanding the changes without any sensitivity at all to the culture, to the trends, to anything. And so we are still caught up in their definition of good writing. But being the ideal dreamer that I am, I still have hopes that someday it'll be better."
úlrsalinas, from "Una Plática con Raúl Salinas: An Interview by Ben Olguín and Louis Mendoza," 1994. Collected in raulrsalinas and the Jail Machine: My Weapon Is My Pen, Louis Mendoza, ed.


jaks said...

OK If ya say so

barbara jane said...

good stuff here. the toni morrison quote on language and violence especially, and i think of this now, as it relates not only to hoagland, but also as it relates to flarf, and various issues about/around flarf as it is currently being discussed in various blog- and e-places.

Pedro Something said...

Hey Rich, Do you remember me? Maybe...I loved the Plato quote the most. Brevity is the soul of wit to qwuote shagsbeard...anyways it's been a while since we last communicadoed
I may hit up the next accento...not sure.....i might be a wild wandering hippy vagabond thumbing my way up to canada by then or not. who knows? my mind changed me so much i don't even trust it i change my mind so much i don't even trust myself to qwuote a mouse.

anyways again... hope to sprekenzi wit ye soon....
Pee es...this is a shameless plug but fawk it....I have a blogspot too....Gypsy
It would be completamente awesomeness if you'd link me...if ye do i'll link ye twoooo....

Pedro Furioso El Delirioso Del Brrrronx

Pee Pee esss

I agree with what you said about poseurs... the whole "spoken word" movement stinks of rotting gangrenous pus ridden intellectual cowardice ...etc.etc's

Biby Cletus said...

Cool blog, i just randomly surfed in, but it sure was worth my time, will be back

Deep Regards from the other side of the Moon

Biby Cletus