A Writer's Moment: 'Writing, Publishing - two separate things' : “I always tell students that writing a poem and publishing i...
A Writer's Moment: 'Companions in One's Life' : “Man was very fortunate to have invented the book. Without it, the past w...
A Writer's Moment: Learning Through Experience : “The world is the true classroom. The most rewarding and important type of learning is...
A Writer's Moment: Making Reading Fun : “Kids enjoy laughing and are seldom bored when they find something funny. They also ask questi...
“I envy those writers who outline their novels, who know where they’re going, but I find writing is a process of discovery.” – Jay McIner...
“I think a lot of people can write poems that are howls of anguish. I think I've probably written such things and th...
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Monday, February 27, 2023
“What a writer asks of his reader is not so much to like as to listen.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Eminently quotable, Longfellow was born on this date in 1807 and rose to become a world-renowned poet.
Longfellow wrote many lyric poems not just known for their musicality but also for presenting stories of mythology and legend, including the renowned Song of Hiawatha and the favorite of school children almost from its first day, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.
He was the most popular American poet – and perhaps writer – of his day, so admired in the U.S. that his poems commanded huge fees. Young people would turn out to welcome him much like rock stars of today are greeted when they come to town, and his 70th birthday was celebrated like a national holiday with parades, speeches, and the reading of his poetry.
Despite that rock star status, “overnight success” for Longfellow didn’t come until he’d been writing for more than 20 years and he advised all writers to “stay strong” in their writing efforts. “Perserverance is a great element of success,” he said. “If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody eventually.”
Saturday, February 25, 2023
reason to write a poem is to flush from the deep thickets of the self some
thought, feeling, comprehension, question, music, you didn't know was in you,
or in the world.” Jane Hirshfield
Born on Feb. 24, 1953, Hirshfield has written many books of poetry, received numerous awards, and established herself as a giant among poets in the past half century. Her collection Given Sugar, Given Salt was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and After was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. She also authored a highly regarded book of essays about poetry, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry.
“My job as a human being as well as a writer is to feel as thoroughly as possible the experience that I am part of, and then press it a little further.” Here, for Saturday’s poem is Hirshfield’s,
I was walking again
in the woods,
a yellow light
was sifting all I saw.
with a cold heart,
I took a stick,
lifted it to the opposite side
of the path.
There, I said to myself,
that's done now.
Brushing one hand against the other,
to clean them
of the tiny fragments of bark.
Friday, February 24, 2023
Thursday, February 23, 2023
“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world," he said. "Someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
“Let us forget such words, and all they mean, as Hatred, Bitterness and Rancor, Greed, Intolerance, Bigotry; let us renew our faith and pledge to Man, his right to be Himself, and free.” – Edna St. Vincent Millay.
St. Vincent Millay, born on this date in 1892, won the 1923 Pulitzer Prize for poetry and the Frost Medal for her lifetime contribution to American poetry 20 years later. In between, she wrote many, many great poems and earned the accolade from fellow poet Richard Wilbur that “She wrote some of the best sonnets of the century.”
Millay also wrote plays and prose and once said, “A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down. If it is a good book nothing can hurt him. If it is a bad book nothing can help him.”
Hers were good, and her poetry even better.
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.
I will look at cliffs and clouds
With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
And the grass rise.
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
“The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.” – Anais Nin
Born in France on this date in 1903, Nin gravitated to writing at a very early age and started keeping detailed journals at the age of 11. She didn’t stop until more than 60 years later at the time of her death, and much of what she kept in them became the basis for her long and impressive writing career.
Over her lifetime she wrote everything from essays to novels, critical studies and short stories. But in the judgment of both herself and scholars are those diaries and journals, which provide a deeply explorative insight into her personal life and relationships. “My ideas,” she once said, “usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.”
And, of course, she wrote down daily about the life that she lived.
Shortly before her 1977 death, she was asked what should be the motivating factor for someone seeking to make a life as a writer. "If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing," she said, "then don't write because our culture has no use for it."
Monday, February 20, 2023
“Writing is an extreme privilege, but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.” – Amy Tan
Tan, born on Feb. 19, 1952, said that while growing up she didn’t have a lot of books in the house, primarily because her immigrant parents did not read English. But, she said “Words, to me, were magic. You could say a word and it could conjure up all kinds of images or feelings or a chilly sensation, or whatever. It was amazing to me that words had this power.”
"I write because I know that one day I will die," she said, "and thus I should experience as many deliberate observations, careful thoughts, wild ideas, and deep emotions as I can before that day occurs."
Saturday, February 18, 2023
February TwilightI stood beside a hill
Smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out
From the cold evening glow.
There was not another creature
That saw what I could see,
I stood and watched the evening star
As long as it watched me.