Stanley Kunitz: Speaking of Poetry

Posted on Sep 16, 2015 in Encouragement

Stanley Kunitz’s spirit continues with us – in words like these from his 1994 commencement address at St. Mary’s College, Maryland.  Draw them in – deeply… “If we want to know what it felt like to be alive at any given moment in the long odyssey of the race, it is to poetry we must turn. The moment is dear to us, precisely because it is so fugitive…What is imagination but a reflection of our yearning to belong to eternity as well as to time? Poets are always ready to talk about the difficulties of their art. I want to say something about its rewards and joys…Through the years I have found this gift of poetry to be life-sustaining, life-enhancing, and absolutely unpredictable. Does one live, therefore for the sake of poetry? No, the reverse is true: Poetry is for the sake of...

read more

“Take a deep breath..” says Elizabeth Berg

Posted on Sep 16, 2015 in Encouragement

This from an email Elizabeth Berg sent writer Donald Murray.  I came across it while reading  My Twice-Lived Life. I discovered Donald Murray late in my writing life. What a gift he was and is to the to all of us who love pen and page and word. Another one of those quotes I like to keep near on my desktop… I believe writing feeds on itself, grows on itself, grows like a pregnancy.  The more you write, the more there is to draw from; the more you say, the more there is to say.  The deeper you go into your imagination, the richer that reservoir becomes.  You do not run out of material by using all that’s in you; rather when you take everything that is available one day, it only makes room for new things to appear the next…You don’t need to know a whole book in...

read more

Ted Kooser’s Poetry Home Repair Manual

Posted on Sep 9, 2015 in Encouragement

“The poet Linda Gregg asks her students to take a close look at just six things each day. What seems like a simple discipline turns out to be quite difficult because, by habit, most of us go through our lives without paying much attention to anything. Surely it’s happened to you: at the end of a day, you drive several miles home and when you get there you can’t remember a thing you saw along the way. Making an effort to pay attention to whats’ going on around them works for Linda Gregg’s students and it will work for you. Memory and imagination are excellent tools when it comes to creating a setting, for example, but it’s observed details that really make a poem vivid.”  (from Poetry Home Repair Manual, p 93) His words are valid for prose...

read more

More Ted Kooser

Posted on Sep 9, 2015 in Encouragement

“You sit with your notebook, and after a while something begins to interest you. The poet William Stafford described it as being like fishing: you throw out your line and wait for a little tug. Maybe all you get is a minnow, three or four words that seem to have a little magic, and even that can be enough to get writing started. And a minnow can be pretty good bait for bigger fish.” from The Poetry Home Repair Manual  – p...

read more

On Writing Memoirs

Posted on Sep 9, 2015 in Encouragement

For those of you writing memoirs this encouragement : “The longing to tell one’s story and the process of telling is symbolically a gesture of longing to recover the past in such a way that one experiences both a sense of reunion and a sense of release.” bell hooks (as cited in Marry Your Muse by Jan Phillips  – p...

read more

Willa Cather says…

Posted on Sep 9, 2015 in Encouragement

This from Willa Cather: “What was any art but an effort to make a sheath, a mold in which to imprison for a moment the shining, elusive element which is life itself — life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to...

read more

Annie Dillard says…

Posted on Sep 9, 2015 in Encouragement

Another from Annie Dillard: “One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. do not hoard what seems good. Give it give it all, give it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well...

read more

Annie Dillard – Write like your writing for the dying…

Posted on Sep 9, 2015 in Encouragement

From Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life: “ …assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its...

read more

Pat Schneider says…

Posted on Sep 9, 2015 in Encouragement

Pat Schneider says in Writing Alone and with Others: “No one has seen the night sky from exactly your tragectory. No one has loved exactly the people and places you have loved. Who will tell that part of the earth’s story if you do...

read more

Peter Elbow says

Posted on Sep 9, 2015 in Encouragement

Peter Elbow on Voice: “People often lack any voice at all because they stop so often in the act of writing a sentence and worry and change their minds about which words to use. They have none of the natural breath in their writing that they have in...

read more