"I tumbled for words at once....There they were, seemingly lifeless, made only of black and white, but out of them, out of their own being, came love and terror and pity and pain and wonder and all the other vague abstractions that make our ephemeral lives dangerous, great, and bearable."
- Dylan Thomas (Notes on the Art of Poetry)
"Perhaps it is the language that chooses the writers it needs, making use of them so that each might express a tiny part of what it is." - José Saramago (Ricardo Reis)
"A word leaves a smoke trail behind it that curls into the past. Every word is surrounded by complex energies. There are meanings underneath a word as well as its obvious meaning. Think of a word as a pendulum instead of a fixed entity. A word can sweep by your ear and by its very sound suggest hidden meanings, preconscious. Listen to these words: blood, tranquil, democracy. You know what they mean but you have associations with those words that are cultural, as well as your own personal associations." - Rita Mae Brown (Starting From Scratch: A Different Kind of Writers' Manual)
"When I cannot see words curling like rings of smoke round me I am in darkness -- I am nothing." - Virginia Woolf (The Waves)
"When we are young, the words are scattered all around us. As they are assembled by experience, so also are we, sentence by sentence, until the story takes shape." - Louise Erdrich (The Plague of Doves)
"The words emerge from her body without her realizing it, as if she were being visited by the memory of a language long forsaken." - Marguerite Duras (Summer Rain)
"The struggle of literature is in fact a struggle to escape from the confines of language; it stretches out from the utmost limits of what can be said; what stirs literature is the call and attraction of what is not in the dictionary." - Italo Calvino (The Literature Machine: Essays)
"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking." - John Maynard Keynes (The New Statesman and Nation, July 15, 1933)
"You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write."
- Annie Proulx (The Paris Review, Spring 2009)
"Words should be an intense pleasure, just as leather should be to a shoemaker. If there isn't that pleasure for a writer, maybe he ought to be a philosopher." - Evelyn Waugh (The New York Times, Nov. 19, 1950)
"We may feel bitterly how little our poems can do in the face of seemingly out of control technological power and seemingly limitless corporate greed, yet it has always been true that poetry can break isolation, show us to ourselves when we are outlawed or made invisible, remind us of beauty where no beauty seems possible, remind us kinship where all is represented as separation." - Adrienne Rich (The Best American Poetry 1996, Introduction)
"I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of the hunger for life that gnaws in us all." - Richard Wright (Black Boy)
"The natural, proper, fitting shape of the novel might be that of a sack, a bag. A book holds words. Words hold things. They bear meanings. A novel is a medicine bundle, holding things in a particular, powerful relation to one another and to us." - Ursula K. Le Guin (Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places)
"I had lines inside me, a string of guiding lights. I had language. Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines. What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination. I had been damaged, and a very important part of me had been destroyed - that was my reality, the facts of my life. But on the other side of the facts was who I could be, how I could feel. And as long as I had words for that, images for that, stories for that, then I wasn't lost." - Jeanette Winterson (Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?)
"As readers, as writers, as citizens...[we] have an obligation to use the language. To push ourselves: to find out what words mean and how to deploy them, to communicate clearly, to say what we mean. We must not to attempt to freeze language, or to pretend it is a dead thing that must be revered, but we should use it as a living thing, that flows, that borrows words, that allows meanings and pronunciations to change with time." - Neil Gaiman (The Guardian, Oct. 15, 2013)
"The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words." - William Gass (A Temple of Texts)
The book art, paper sculptures and paper collages above are by Alexander Korzer-Robinson, Steven McPherson, Donna Ruff, Ellen Bell, Ekaterina Panikanova, M.J. Goerke, Jodi Harvey-Brown, Louise Richardson, Thomas Wightman, Ashley Lamoureux, Valley Nomidou, and Jody Alexander. Run your cursor over the pictures for individual titles and credits. The last collage is one of mine, and contains this poem by Delia Sherman.