Sunday, April 24, 2022

Wise words


Thoughts on Art from creative people born April 25:

from British poet, fiction writer, playwright, and editor Walter de la Mare (Songs of Childhood, Poems, Memoirs of a Midget, Crossings, Come Hither, Collected Stories for Children) (1873-1956):

That is one of the pleasures of reading—you may make any picture out of words you can and will; and a poem may have as many different meanings as there are different minds.

All day long the door of the sub-conscious remains just ajar; we slip through to the other side, and return again, as easily and secretly as a cat.


from American author Maud Hart Lovelace (Betsy-Tacey novel series) (1892-1980):

Betsy returned to her chair, took off her coat and hat, opened her book and forgot the world again.

Isn't it mysterious to begin a new journal like this? I can run my fingers through the fresh clean pages but I cannot guess what the writing on them will be.

I cannot remember back to a year in which I did not consider myself to be a writer, and the younger I was the bigger that capital "W."


from Spanish novelist Corín Tellado ((Boda clandestina, Incomprensión, Lucha Oculta, La Novia viuda, Desde el Corazon, El Testamento); wrote more than 4,000 books (1927-2009):

I'm not a romantic or write romance novels. I am positive and sensitive, and I write novels of feelings, which is not the same. For me, the novel can be sentimental, it does not bother me that I am pigeonholed in the pink novel, but it is evident that many ignore that the pink denomination comes from when the covers of the novel were of that color. Love never goes out of style and although my novels may resemble each other, they are all different. Heartbreak is what is most present in them.

To insinuate he taught me censorship, because he said things clearly and that was rejected. There were months that I was rejected up to 4 novels. Some novels came with so many underlines that there was hardly any black handwriting left. I was taught to insinuate, to suggest rather than to show. I learned to tell the same thing but with subtlety, so I never left anything to say.

I have sacrificed my life to literature. I hurt myself. But I will stop writing, when my head falls on the machine. I don't give up.


from American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author J. Anthony Lukas (“The Two Worlds of Linda Fitzpatrick,” Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families) (1933-1997):

All writers, I think, are to one extent or another, damaged people. Writing is our way of repairing ourselves.

I firmly believe that any good journalist must essentially be temperamentally an outsider. I don't think full sense of belonging and security is conducive to creativity.

If the noun is good and the verb is strong, you almost never need an adjective.


from American Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet Laureate Ted Kooser (Delights & Shadows); also noted for Sure Signs, One World at a Time, Weather Central, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry, House Held Up By Trees) (b. 1939):

The poem is the device through which the ordinary world is seen in a new way—engaging, compelling, even beautiful.

There are mornings when everything brims with promise, even my empty cup.

There's nothing wrong with delighting in what you do. In fact, most of the fun you'll have as a poet will come about during the process of writing.

a happy birthday this evening, I sat by an open window and read till the light was gone and the book was no more than a part of the darkness. I could easily have switched on a lamp, but I wanted to ride the day down into night, to sit alone, and smooth the unreadable page with the pale gray ghost of my hand

If I don't take the risk, I'll wind up with a bloodless poem. I have to be out there on the edge.


from English poet and journalist James Martin Fenton (Terminal Moraine, A Vacant Possession, The Memory of War, Children in Exile: Poems 1968-1984, All the Wrong Places: Adrift in the Politics of the Pacific Rim, Manilla Envelope, Out of Danger) (b. 1949):

The writing of a poem is like a child throwing stones into a mineshaft. You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation.

Imitation, if it is not forgery, is a fine thing. It stems from a generous impulse, and a realistic sense of what can and cannot be done.

My feeling is that poetry will wither on the vine if you don't regularly come back to the simplest fundamentals of the poem: rhythm, rhyme, simple subjects—love, death, war.

A poem with grandly conceived and executed stanzas, such as one of Keats's odes, should be like an enfilade of rooms in a palace: one proceeds, with eager anticipation, from room to room.

I don't see that a single line can constitute a stanza, although it can constitute a whole poem.

For poets today or in any age, the choice is not between freedom on the one hand and abstruse French forms on the other. The choice is between the nullity and vanity of our first efforts, and the developing of a sense of idiom, form, structure, metre, rhythm, line—all the fundamental characteristics of this verbal art.

An aria in an opera—Handel's 'Ombra mai fu,' for example—gets along with an incredibly small number of words and ideas and a large amount of variation and repetition. That's the beauty of it. It's not taxing to the listener's intelligence because if you haven't heard it the first time round, it'll come around again.


from American novelist and memoirist Darcey Steinke (Up Through the Water, Suicide Blonde, Jesus Saves, Milk, Sister Golden Hair, Easter Everywhere) (b. 1962):

When you write you have to reside in the unknown for as long as possible.


from American novelist Seth King (The Summer Remains, All We Ever Wanted) (b. 1989):

If eyes are windows into the soul, books are rabbit holes into the imagination.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Wise words

Thoughts on Art from creative people born April 18:

from English philosopher, writer, critic, editor, actor, and scientist George Henry Lewes (The Biographical History of Philosophy, The Leader, The Life and Works of Goethe, Actors and Acting, Problems of Life and Mind) (1817-1878):

Personal experience is the basis of all real Literature.

Insight is the first condition of Art.

Philosophy and Art both render the invisible visible by imagination.

The object of Literature is to instruct, to animate, or to amuse.

All great authors are seers.

No man was ever eloquent by trying to be eloquent, but only by being so.

Endeavour to be faithful, and if there is any beauty in your thought, your style will be beautiful; if there is any real emotion to express, the expression will be moving.

All bad Literature rests upon imperfect insight, or upon imitation, which may be defined as seeing at second-hand.

Imagination is not the exclusive appanage of artists, but belongs in varying degrees to all men.

The public can only be really moved by what is genuine.

Good writers are of necessity rare.

Speak for yourself and from yourself, or be silent.


from American journalist, novelist, and playwright Richard Harding Davis (Harper's Weekly, Gallegher and Other Stories, Soldier of Fortune, Ransom's Folly) (1864-1916):

The secret of good writing is to say an old thing in a new way or a new thing in an old way.


from English-born American conductor Leopold Stokowski (Philadelphia Orchestra) (1882-1977):

Music comes from the heart and returns to the heart... music is spontaneous, impulsive expression... its range is without limit... music is forever growing... music can be one element to help us build a new conception of life in which the madness and cruelty of wars will be replaced by a simple understanding of the brotherhood of man.

The highest reaches of music come thrillingly close to the central core and essence of life itself.

I believe in a passionately strong feeling for the poetry of life—for the beautiful, the mysterious, the romantic, the ecstatic—the loveliness of Nature, the lovability of people, everything that excites us, everything that starts our imagination working, LAUGHTER, gaiety, strength, heroism, love, tenderness, every time we see—however dimly—the godlike that is in everyone and want to kneel in reverence.

As a boy I remember how terribly real the statues of the saints would seem at 7 o'clock Mass—before I'd had breakfast. From that I learned always to conduct hungry.

It's hard to put into words the impact of the perfect lyric, melody or contagious beat that moves you in an unexpected way. Authors, composers and artists have tried—and here we've rounded up our favorite quotes that help to begin forming structure around such an unspoken universal force. Which are most meaningful to you? If you had to sum up the power of music and sound in one sentence, what would you say? "A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence."


from Hungarian-American Oscar-winning composer Miklós Rózsa (Spellbound, A Double Life, Ben-Hur); also noted for Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, The Killers, The Red House, The Asphalt Jungle, Lust for Life, The Power, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1907-1995):

Emotions in a film come from elements that may be completely asymmetrical, like a kaleidoscope. Music is the element that keeps the different elements together, because it has continuity and rhythm. Music is the most abstract element in a film, full of impressionistic effects, but it usually has the most symmetry. That is why music should underline drama, not create it. It may be even worse today, the use of what in Hollywood is called wall-to-wall music, but even then many producers and directors did not understand the importance of silence.

I believe in music as a form of communication; for me it is more an expression of emotion than an intellectual or cerebral crossword puzzle... I am a traditionalist, but I believe tradition can be so recreated as to express the artist’s own epoch while preserving its relationship with the past.


from American experimental writer Kathy Acker (Great Expectations, Blood and Guts in High School, Empire of the Senseless) (1944-1997):

Women need to become literary "criminals," break the literary laws and reinvent their own, because the established laws prevent women from presenting the reality of their lives.

Well, I think writing is basically about time and rhythm. Like with jazz. You have your basic melody and then you just riff off of it. And the riffs are about timing.

The only reaction against an unbearable society is equally unbearable nonsense.

Literature is that which denounces and slashes apart the repressing machine at the level of the signified.

There must be a secret hidden in this book or else you wouldn't bother to read it.

Everytime you read, you are walking among the dead, and, if you are listening, you just might hear prophecies.

First of all, writing at best—certainly fiction writing—more and more I think is magic.

A novel is a book with a lot of pages.


from Ukrainian-Russian-Jewish-American poet and critic Ilya Kaminsky (Dancing in Odessa, Deaf Republic) (b. 1977):

I believe that no great lyric poet ever speaks in the so-called “proper” language of his or her time. Emily Dickinson didn’t write in “proper” English grammar but in slant music of fragmentary perception. Half a world and half a century away, Cesar Vallejo placed three dots in the middle of the line, as if language itself were not enough, as if the poet’s voice needed to leap from one image to another, to make—to use Eliot’s phrase—a raid on the inarticulate. Paul Celan wrote to his wife from Germany, where he briefly visited from his voluntary exile in France: “The language with which I make my poems has nothing to do with one spoken here, or anywhere.”

Erase everything you have written, Mandelstam says, but keep the notes in the margin.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Wise words

Thoughts on Art from creative people born April 11:

from English essayist and poet Christopher Smart (The Student, The Midwife, The Hilliad, A Song to David, Jubilate Agno) (1722-1771):

For I bless God in the libraries of the learned and for all the booksellers in the world.

Awake before the sun is risen, I call for my pen and papers and desk.


from Polish-born American journalist, humorist, screenwriter, and social scientist Leo Rosten (The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N, The Joys of Yiddish, Captain Newman, M.D., The Power of Positive Nonsense) (1908-1997):

A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood. The writer wants to be understood much more than he wants to be respected or praised or even loved.

Words must surely be counted among the most powerful drugs man ever invented.

Every writer is a narcissist. This does not mean that he is vain; it only means that he is hopelessly self-absorbed.

Humor is, I think, the subtlest and chanciest of literary forms. It is surely not accidental that there are a thousand novelists, essayists, poets or journalists for each humorist. It is a long, long time between James Thurbers.

The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can't help it.


from Canadian-born American Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. Poet Laureate, essayist, critic, and translator Mark Strand (Blizzard of One); also known for Sleeping with One Eye Open, The Monument, Hopper (1934-2014):

From the reader's view, a poem is more demanding than prose.

Usually a life turned into a poem is misrepresented.

Pain is filtered in a poem so that it becomes finally, in the end, pleasure.

I am not concerned with truth, nor with conventional notions of what is beautiful.

I tend to like poems that engage me—that is to say, which do not bore me.

Poetry is, first and last, language—the rest is filler.


from American screenwriter-director John Milius (Magnum Force, Apocalypse Now, Conan the Barbarian, Red Dawn, Rome) (b. 1944):

I may not be the strongest guy or the most well armed, but you can put me in a room with a pencil and a piece of paper and I can kill anybody.

Writing requires a great deal of skill, just like painting does. People don't want to learn those skills.

Most artists think they're frauds anyway.

Also, they don't understand—writing is language. The use of language. The language to create image, the language to create drama. It requires a skill of learning how to use language.

Films are always pretentious. There's nothing more pretentious than a filmmaker.

I was never conscious of my screenplays having any acts. It's all bullshit.

No, you're either born a writer, a storyteller, or you're not.


from English journalist, broadcaster, and author Mark Lawson (Front Row, Mark Lawson Talks to…, The Guardian, Bloody Margaret: Three Political Fantasises, The Battle for Room Service, Idlewild) (b. 1962):

Critics are giving marks for originality, acting, photography and scripting, while mass audiences are more drawn to familiarity of genre, stars they would like to have sex with or plots that are more likely to make their dates have sex with them. Reviewers are doing their day's work, cinema-goers are escaping from theirs: this leads to an inevitable difference of response. It is, though, wrong to conclude that reviewers are completely useless. Books, movies and shows may be critic-proof, but the egos and psyches of the people who make them very rarely are.


from English singer-songwriter Lisa Stansfield (Blue Zone, Affection, "All Around the World," Real Love, So Natural, Lisa Stansfield, Face Up) (b. 1966):

You have to say no to a lot of people and when a lot of people are telling you what you're doing is a bit rubbish you just have to have the courage to say “no it isn't” and believe in it.

I did work incredibly hard but I think there's a certain element of luck.

People say to me about my music “it got me through college, it saved my marriage, it helped me to come out.” It's wonderful to be part of someone's life in a big way.

The power of music is a wonderful thing. It can make us happy, make us cry. It can make us forget and make us remember.

Business people want things to be safe but that's rubbish to me. In music nothing should be safe.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Wise words

Thoughts about Art from creative people born April 4:

from French Fauvist painter Maurice de Vlaminck (Sur le zinc, L'homme a la pipe, La danseuse du Rat-Mort, La Seine a Chatou) (1876-1958):

Good painting is like good cooking; it can be tasted, but not explained.

I try to paint with my heart and my loins, not bothering about style.

I heightened all the tones, I transposed in an orchestration of pure colors all the feelings I could grasp. I was a tender barbarian filled with violence.

In art, theories are as useful as a doctor's prescription; one must be sick to believe them.

I wanted to burn down Ecole de Beaux Arts with my cobalts and vermilions and I wanted to express my feelings with my brushes without troubling what painting was like before me... Life and me, me and life.

Painting was an abscess which drained off an evil in me. Without a gift for painting I would have gone to the bad... what I could only have achieved in a social context by throwing a bomb... I have tried to express in art.

When I get my hands on painting materials I don't give a damn about other people's painting... every generation must start again afresh.


from American Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and biographer Robert E. Sherwood (Idiot’s Delight, Abe Lincoln in Illinois, There Shall Be No Night, Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History); also known for the Oscar-winning The Best Years of Our Lives (1896-1955):

To be able to write a play a man must be sensitive, imaginative, naive, gullible, passionate; he must be something of an imbecile, something of a poet, something of a liar, something of a damn fool.

He must be independent and brave, and sure of himself and of the importance of his work, because if he isn't he will never survive the scorching blasts of derision that will probably greet his first efforts.


from English-born American dancer, teacher, and choreographer Antony Tudor (1908-1987):

I would like to tell all dancers to forget themselves and the desire for self display. They must become completely absorbed in the dance. Even in a classical variation there should never be any thought of a dancer doing a variation—he should become identified with it.

Sometimes I feel as if sections of my ballets were done for me—that I didn't do them myself.


from French novelist, playwright, and filmmaker Marguerite Duras (Hiroshima mon amour, India Song, L’Amant) (1914-1996):

When it's in a book I don't think it'll hurt any more ...exist any more. One of the things writing does is wipe things out. Replace them.

A book consists of two layers: on top, the readable layer ... and underneath, a layer that was inaccessible. You only sense its existence in a moment of distraction from the literal reading, the way you see childhood through a child. It would take forever to tell what you see, and it would be pointless.

Finding yourself in a hole, at the bottom of a hole, in almost total solitude, and discovering that only writing can save you. To be without the slightest subject for a book, the slightest idea for a book, is to find yourself, once again, before a book. A vast emptiness. A possible book. Before nothing. Before something like living, naked writing, like something terrible, terrible to overcome.

When the past is recaptured by the imagination, breath is put back into life.

Men like women who write. Even though they don't say so. A writer is a foreign country.


from American Tony-winning actor Elizabeth W. Wilson (Sticks and Bones); also noted for Patterns, The Threepenny Opera, Morning's at Seven, Salonika, Nutcracker: Money, Madness & Murder (1921-2015):

When I was about 8, I used to go into one of the rooms in the mansion, and I would open a magazine like the ‘Ladies Home Journal,’ and I would see these characters on the pages and then become them, talking back and forth.

I always felt the play came first. If it didn’t touch me, I’d say forget the part.

I had no desire to be a star. I wanted to be a character actress and be able to do all kinds of parts and work on a lot of things. That was my unconscious choice. I wanted to be an undercover actress.


from American Grammy-winning poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou (On the Pulse of Morning, Phenomenal Woman, A Song Flung Up to Heaven); also known for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1918-2014):

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.

Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.

You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.


from South African jazz trumpeter and composer Hugh Masekela ("Grazing in the Grass," Sarafina! The Music of Liberation, Jabulani); also noted for "Soweta Blues," "Bring Him Back Home" (1939-2018):

I don't think any musician ever thinks about making a statement. I think everybody goes into music loving it.

Whatever you go into, you have to go in there to be the best. There's no formulas. It's all about passion and honesty and hard work. It might look glamorous, but it takes a lot of hard work. The blessing with the arts is that you can do it forever.


from Irish blues-rock guitarist Gary Moore (Skid Row, Thin Lizzie, "Parisienne Walkways," Still Got the Blues, After Hours) (1952-2011):

If you are an expressive player, people can feel that. It is an emotional thing and becomes an extension of yourself.

Lots of kids when they get their first instrument hammer away at it but they don't realise there are so many levels of dynamics with a guitar. You can play one note on a guitar and it really gets to people if it is the right note in the right place played by the right person.

I wasn't really worrying too much about what anybody thought: if you do that you shut yourself down.

I think that a lot of people are going so wrong by analysing music too much and learning from a totally different perspective from the way I learned. I mean, I just learned by listening to people. People I learned from learned by listening to people.