“Essentially poetry, if it is poetry, does not lend itself to simple readings, to oversimplifications — though people may try to read it that way. It seems to me that the essential nature of a poem is that there is ambivalence and ambiguity quivering underneath.”—Adrienne Rich: The 1989 Fresh Air interview (via nprfreshair)
“If you’re gonna write, for God in heaven’s sake, try to get naked. Try to write the truth. Try to get underneath all the sham, all the excuses, all the lies that you’ve been told.”—Author and playwright Harry Crews, who died yesterday at 76. (via washingtonpoststyle)
Two hundred and one years ago today, Percy Bysshe Shelley and his friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg were expelled from Oxford University for ”contumacy in refusing to answer certain questions put to them.” The two had published an incendiary pamphlet called The Necessity of Atheism.
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is published. The novel sold 300,000 copies within three months and was so widely read that when President Abraham Lincoln met Stowe in 1862, he reportedly said, “So this is the little lady who made this big war.”
When I was a child I read books. My reading was not indiscriminate. I preferred books that were old and thick and hard. I made vocabulary lists.
Surprising as it may seem, I had friends, some of whom read more than I did. I knew a good deal about Constantinople and the Cromwell revolution and chivalry. There was little here that was relevant to my experience, but the shelves of northern Idaho groaned with just the sort of old dull books I craved, so I cannot have been alone in these enthusiasms.
Relevance was precisely not an issue for me. I looked to Galilee for meaning and to Spokane for orthodonture, and beyond that the world where I was I found entirely sufficient.
“Constructing a sentence is the equivalent of taking a Polaroid snapshot: pressing the button, and watching something emerge. To write one is to document and to develop at the same time. Not all sentences end up in novels or stories. But novels and stories consist of nothing but. Sentences are the bricks as well as the mortar, the motor as well as the fuel. They are the cells, the individual stitches. Their nature is at once solitary and social. Sentences establish tone, and set the pace. One in front of the other marks the way.”—Jhumpa Lahiri, “My Life’s Sentences” (via millionsmillions)
“Oh, it is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read.”—Oscar Wilde (via crownpublishing)