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“I had a teacher I liked who used to say good fiction’s job was to comfort the disturbed and disturb…”

“I had a teacher I liked who used to say good fiction’s job was to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. I guess a big part of serious fiction’s purpose is to give the reader, who like all of us is sort of marooned in her own skull, to give her imaginative access to other selves. … We all suffer alone in the real world; true empathy’s impossible. But if a piece of fiction can allow us imaginatively to identify with a character’s pain, we might then also more easily conceive of others identifying with our own. This is nourishing, redemptive; we become less alone inside.”

- David Foster Wallace, An Interview With David Foster Wallace (via ubuwaits, viafrank-deactivated20120702)
May 9

“There’s no such thing as a chair – if you just lost your spouse, it’s an empty chair….”

“There’s no such thing as a chair – if you just lost your spouse, it’s an empty chair. Everything in our sensory world comes through our mind and heart and looks, feels, smells, sounds, tastes different given our emotional state.”

- via Draft Journal
May 8

“People say to me, ‘Oh, you’re so prolific.’ God, it doesn’t feel like it — nothing like it. But, you…”

“People say to me, ‘Oh, you’re so prolific.’ God, it doesn’t feel like it — nothing like it. But, you know, you put an ounce in a bucket each day, you get a quart.””

- John McPhee (via austinkleon)
May 7

portraits-of-america: “I’m from Liberia, but I grew up in…



portraits-of-america:

“I’m from Liberia, but I grew up in Kosovo.”
“How did that change affect you?”
“I learned how to be a black person. When I went to Kosovo, I was one of the first black people they had ever seen. I was the only black kid in my school. I had to get to know myself and become comfortable in the situation. Now I can talk to anyone.”

Boston, MA

May 6

“It was a tremendously painful thing to do, especially in the beginning. It’s like in the everyday…”

“It was a tremendously painful thing to do, especially in the beginning. It’s like in the everyday world, you’re just plugged into all the possibilities. Every time you get bored, you plug yourself in somewhere: you call somebody up, you pick up a magazine, a book, you go to a movie, anything. And all of that becomes your identity, the way in which you’re alive. You identify yourself in terms of all that. Well, what was happening to me as I was on my way to Ibiza was that I was pulling all those plugs out, one at a time: books, language, social contacts. And what happens at a certain point as you get down to the last plugs, it’s like the Zen thing of having no ego: it becomes scary, it’s like maybe you’re going to lose yourself. And boredom then becomes extremely painful. You really are of your own being. But when you get them all pulled out, a little period goes by, and then it’s absolutely serene, it’s terrific. It just becomes really pleasant, because you’re out, you’re all the way out.”

- Robert Irwin in Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees (via ubuwaits)
May 5

Fear and Trembling, Lauren K. Alleyne

After Kierkegaard

And there are many ways to come undone
—some more exquisite than others. Ask Eve,
she will tell you apple-lust unwrapped her
left her cold and with a word for shiver.
Lot’s wife is witness that a backward glance
is enough—nostalgia pillared her. But,
I imagine the somewhat greater deeds:
picture the Red Sea unstitched like a braid;
the lion’s den, its many hungry mouths;
Isaac’s bewildered screams: why, daddy, why?
And what terrible choice to peel back doubt
like a bandage, without question or lack
to say Here am I, to renounce relief:
step in, seize the knife, and to know belief.

(via The 2River View)

May 4

“A Small Needful Fact Is that Eric Garner worked for some time for the Parks and Rec.  Horticultural…”

“A Small Needful Fact
Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec. 
Horticultural Department, which means, 
perhaps, that with his very large hands, 
perhaps, in all likelihood, 
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.”

- Ross Gay is a gardener and teacher living in Bloomington, Indiana. His book, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, is available from University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015.
(via blackcontemporaryart)
May 3

“I do not need to get used to your silence. I already know it. I quite possibly love all of it.”

“I do not need to get used to your silence. I already know it. I quite possibly love all of it.”

- Ernest Hemingway (via seols)
May 2

“Many young poets have come to me and asked, How am I gonna make it? They feel, and often with…”

“Many young poets have come to me and asked, How am I gonna make it? They feel, and often with considerable justice, that they are being overlooked while others with less talent are out there making careers for themselves. I always give the same advice. I say, Do it the hard way, and you’ll always feel good about yourself. You write because you have to, and you get this unbelievable satisfaction from doing it well. Try to live on that as long as you’re able. Don’t kiss anyone’s ass. Wait and be discovered or don’t be discovered.”

- Philip Levine, The Art of Poetry No. 39 (via bostonpoetryslam)
May 2

“‘There’s time enough, but none to spare.’”

“‘There’s time enough, but none to spare.’”

- Charles W. Chesnutt, from The Marrow of Tradition (via the-final-sentence)
May 1

“Begin with something in your range. Then write it as a secret. I’d be paralyzed if I thought I had…”

“Begin with something in your range. Then write it as a secret. I’d be paralyzed if I thought I had to write a great novel, and no matter how good I think a book is on one day, I know now that a time will come when I will look upon it as a failure. The gratification has to come from the effort itself. I try not to look back. I approach the work as though, in truth, I’m nothing and the words are everything. Then I write to save my life. If you are a writer, that will be true. Writing has saved my life.”

- Louise Erdrich, via http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/6055/the-art-of-fiction-no-208-louise-erdrich
Apr 25

“The hours between 12am and 6am have a funny habit of making you feel like you’re either on top of…”

“The hours between 12am and 6am have a funny habit of making you feel like you’re either on top of the world, or under it.”

- Beau Taplin || the hours between.   (via exoticwild)
Apr 18

“I do believe in poetry. I believe that there are creatures endowed with the power to put things…”

“I do believe in poetry. I believe that there are creatures endowed with the power to put things together and bring them back to life”

- Helene Cixous, The Book of Promethea (via stealingintolanguage)
Apr 17

“you have chosen a profession in which you put communication out into the world. In effect, you are…”

“you have chosen a profession in which you put communication out into the world. In effect, you are taking part in the public space that we all share, and you’re intruding on it. At the highest level of responsibility you do not intrude on the world with things that are untrue, crappy, dumb, or don’t deserve the space you’re devoting to them. And if you’re really doing it right, you avoid all of that and ask, “How can I do this in a way that will make people’s lives better?” That doesn’t mean only doing non-profit work. It means focusing on how you can take every single project—no matter the size, purpose, client, audience, or context—and and use it to make the world a slightly better place.”

- Michael Bierut on The Great Discontent (TGD)
Apr 16

“Is there another form of communication besides email where the acknowledged goal is to hide all of…”

“Is there another form of communication besides email where the acknowledged goal is to hide all of the communication? Email has evolved into a weird medium of communication where the best thing you can do is destroy it quickly, as if every email were a rabid bat attacking your face. Yet even the tragically email-burdened still have a weird love for this particular rabid, face-attacking bat. People love to tweet about how overwhelming it all is. They write articles about email bankruptcy and proclaim their inbox zero status. Email is broken, everyone agrees, but it’s the devil we know. Besides, we’re just one app away from happiness.”

- Doomed to Repeat It — The Message — Medium
Apr 10

Patience Agbabi at the International International Literature…



Patience Agbabi at the International International Literature Showcase, Norwich, 2015.

Apr 9

Had the wheels stolen from my bike a few weeks ago. Welcome back…



Had the wheels stolen from my bike a few weeks ago. Welcome back to public transport.

Apr 8

“In the last couple of years, I’ve been going through a process of un-education: removing all the bad…”

In the last couple of years, I’ve been going through a process of un-education: removing all the bad habits that school somehow implanted in me:

  • Being afraid of failure or embarrassment
  • Going after prizes and prestigious awards
  • Avoiding stuff I didn’t know how to do
  • Trying to get answers before fully considering the problem
  • Being uncomfortable with not knowing

One of the signal qualities of children at play is their fearlessness. They’ll experiment. Falling over is fine.

Our system should be producing more adults with this same fearlessness, who go after what they really want from the start in rational, systematic ways. Right now, we tend to produce ‘answer-centred’ people who are terrified of doing things wrong.



- Things I Despised About My Education— Nabeel Qureshi
Apr 8

“Altschmerz n. weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had—the same boring flaws and…”

“Altschmerz n. weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had—the same boring flaws and anxieties you’ve been gnawing on for years, which leaves them soggy and tasteless and inert, with nothing interesting left to think about, nothing left to do but spit them out and wander off to the backyard, ready to dig up some fresher pain you might have buried long ago.”

- The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows: Altschmerz 
Apr 2

“The filídh were a professional caste of poets in early Ireland who were often credited with the…”

“The filídh were a professional caste of poets in early Ireland who were often credited with the supernatural power of prophecy. The words fili and filídh are etymologically connected to ‘seer.’ These poets, who were the successors of the druids and could practice divination, were magicians and lawgivers.”

- Edward Hirsch on this week’s Poets Glossary term. (via poetsorg)
Apr 1