Perhaps no other art form is asked to defend its value, impact, relevance, and existence as often as poetry. Through the centuries poets have explained how poetry connects us to ourselves. With a mastery of language and its possibilities, poets elevate the material of everyday communication to art that requires reflection and contemplation, and ultimately elucidates our location in the world.
As the poet Muriel Rukeyser once wrote, “If there were no poetry on any day in the world, poetry would be invented that day. For there would be an intolerable hunger.”
Many are remembering the singer’s ‘Baltimore’ in light of this week’s events.
As thousands marched in Baltimore this week to protest the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man who died in police custody after suffering a spinal injury, many were reminded of one Simone song in particular: “Baltimore.” Continue reading
as fragile as she was strong
as vulnerable as she was dynamic
most people are afraid to be as honest as she lived
The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.
— Gilbert K. Chesterton
here are nabokov’s original instructions for the book cover:
I want pure colors, melting clouds, accurately drawn details, a sunburst above a receding road with the light reflected in furrows and ruts, after rain. And no girls. … Who would be capable of creating a romantic, delicately drawn, non-Freudian and non-juvenile, picture for LOLITA (a dissolving remoteness, a soft American landscape, a nostalgic highway—that sort of thing)? There is one subject which I am emphatically opposed to: any kind of representation of a little girl.
and yet, the representations of the sexy little girl abound.
If you get, give.
If you learn, teach.
by Maya Angelou
When you see me sitting quietly,
like a sack upon a shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering.
I’m listening to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don’t pity me!
Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it,
otherwise I’ll do without it!
When my bones are stiff and aching
and my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor:
Don’t bring me no rocking chair.
When you see me walking, stumbling,
don’t study and get it wrong.
‘Cause tired don’t mean lazy
and every goodbye ain’t gone.
I’m the same person I was back then,
a little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind.
But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.
Tonight on HBO
Hence living is always, ceaselessly, restlessly, a doing. Why is it not realised that all doing implies bringing something future into effect? Including the case when we give ourselves up to remembering. We recall a memory at this moment in order to effect something in the moment following, be it only the pleasure of re-living the past. This modest secret pleasure presented itself to us a moment ago as a desirable future thing, therefore we ‘make remembrance of things past.’
— Jose Ortega Gassett
Revolt of the Masses, 1930
by Nikki Giovanni
one is always
like we juggle our mothers
against our fathers
or one teacher
(only to balance our grade average)
3 grains of salt
to one ounce truth
our sweet black essence
or the funky honkies down the street
and lately i’ve begun wondering
if you’re trying to tell me something
we used to talk all night
and do things alone together
and i’ve begun
(as a reaction to a feeling)
the pleasure of loneliness
against the pain
of loving you
The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.
Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.
Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:
- Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing*. Read it three times.
- Write the way you talk. Naturally.
- Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
- Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
- Never write more than two pages on any subject.
- Check your quotations.
- Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning—and then edit it.
- If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
- Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
- If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.
*Writing That Works, by Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson
via Lists of Note.
Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Look, how tiny down there,
look: the last village of words and, higher,
(but how tiny) still one last
farmhouse of feeling. Can you see it?
Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Stoneground
under your hands. Even here, though,
something can bloom; on a silent cliff-edge
an unknowing plant blooms, singing, into the air.
But the one who knows? Ah, he began to know
and is quiet now, exposed on the cliffs of the heart.
While, with their full awareness,
many sure-footed mountain animals pass
or linger. And the great sheltered birds flies, slowly
circling, around the peak’s pure denial. – But
without a shelter, here on the cliffs of the heart…
‘ After they passed, there were memorial services to plan with no real time to grieve because when one passed, you were needed somewhere else to begin the process all over ’
‘I kept a memory book/photo album of everyone I knew that died of AIDS. It’s quite large to say the least. Who were these guys? These were the people I had planned to grow old with. They were the family I had created and wanted to spend the rest of my life with as long as humanly possible but by the time I was in my late 40s, every one of them was gone except for two dear friends of mine.’
John Baldessari’s Goya Series 
The titles of Goya’s series of etchings “The disasters of war” were reappropriated by artist John Baldessari in 1997 for his contribution to that year’s Venice Biennale. Black and white photographs of mundane objects are reproduced by the artist on canvas and accompanied by Goyesque titles (some taken from the originals, some invented by himself).