What are the sources of poetry? Love and death and the paradox of love and death. All poetry from the beginning is about Eros and Thanatos. Those are the only subjects. And how Eros and Thanatos interweave.
Poetry is the language we speak in the most terrifying or ecstatic passages of our lives. But the very word poetry scares people. They think of their grade school teachers reciting 'Hiawatha' and they groan.
There is still the feeling that women's writing is a lesser class of writing, that what goes on in the nursery or the bedroom is not as important as what goes on in the battlefield, that what women know about is a less category of knowledge.
Anybody who instantly goes from being a poet and a graduate student to being a public figure has to be in a state of shock. First people want to praise you, and then they want to attack you. No one can prepare you for it.
The virtues about marriage were mostly negative virtues. Being unmarried in a man's world was such a hassle that anything had to be better. Marriage was better. But not much. Damned clever, I thought, how men had made life so intolerable for single women that most would gladly embrace even bad marriages instead.
Even when we are screaming and throwing things, we are friends. Who is the man and who is the woman? Sometimes neither of us knows. The marriage is androgynous -- like the closest friendships. It will keep.
But at the bottom of all the gloom, there is a sense that we are responsible for each other -- if not for each other's happiness. There is empathy, admiration, respect for the other's intelligence and honesty.
We've shown again and again, in every UN report on the status of women, that wherever women control their own bodies and have access to education, societies prosper. Men's fortunes go up, children's fortunes go up. This is not news - it's been proven repeatedly. Anywhere those things are threatened, we have to defend them.
Every time we hit an air pocket and the plane dropped about five hundred feet (leaving my stomach in my mouth) I vowed to give up sex, bacon, and air travel if I ever made it back to terra firma in one piece.
It was the old psychosomatic side-step. Everyone in my family dances it at every opportunity. You've given me a splitting headache! You've given me indigestion! You've given me crotch rot! You've given me auditory hallucinations! You've given me a heart attack! You've given me cancer!
Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more.
I don't think you will ever fully understand how you've touched my life and made me who I am. I don't think you could ever know just how truly special you are that even on the darkest nights you are my brightest star
Back in the days when men were hunters and chest beaters and women spent their whole lives worrying about pregnancy or dying in childbirth, they often had to be taken against their will. Men complained that women were cold, unresponsive, frigid. They wanted their women wanton. They wanted their women wild. Now women were finally learning to be wanton and wild - and what happened? The men wilted.
There is simply no dignified way for a woman to live alone. Oh, she can get along financially perhaps (though not nearly as well as a man), but emotionally she is never left in peace. Her friends, her family, her fellow workers never let her forget that her husbandlessness, her childlessness - her selfishness, in short - is a reproach to the American way of life.
Coupling doesn't always have to do with sex ... Two people holding each other up like flying buttresses. Two people depending on each other and babying each other and defending each other against the world outside. Sometimes it was worth all the disadvantages of marriage just to have that: one friend in an indifferent world.
There is a rhythm to the ending of a marriage just like the rhythm of a courtship-only backward. You try to start again but get into blaming over and over. Finally you are both worn out, exhausted, hopeless. Then lawyers are called in to pick clean the corpses. The death has occurred much earlier.
Motherhood cannot finally be delegated. Breast-feeding may succumb to the bottle; cuddling, fondling, and paediatric visits may also be done by fathers...but when a child needs a mother to talk to, nobody else but a mother will do.
I think a lot of people, when they read about a woman who acknowledges her sexuality and her feelings, get really scared. They say they want to be fearless, but in reality they're terrified. If they acknowledge their deepest feelings, they might have to change their lives.
I have ne'er been in a chamber with a lawyer when I did not wish either to scream with desperation or else fall into the deepest of sleeps, e'en when the matter concern'd my own future most profoundly.
In a way women are fleshier because of estrogen. It's hard for us to lose weight because when we get super skinny we don't ovulate. Women in camps during the Holocaust didn't menstruate and didn't ovulate. They were starving; they were terrified. Why emulate that condition? It's nonsensical to me.
There is nothing fiercer than a failed artist. The energy remains, but, having no outlet, it implodes in a great black fart of rage which smokes up all the inner windows of the soul. Horrible as successful artists often are, there is nothing crueler or more vain than a failed artist.
As a past president of the Writers Guild, I think women shouldn't write for free. Maybe you have to do it for a time, to make a reputation, but I think the idea of giving your work away is the beginning of authors not being able to make a living.
I am thinking of the onion again. . . . Not self-righteous like the proletarian potato, nor a siren like the apple. No show-off like the banana. But a modest, self-effacing vegetable, questioning, introspective, peeling itself away, or merely radiating halos like ripples.
If sex and creativity are often seen by dictators as subversive activities, it's because they lead to the knowledge that you own your own body (and with it your own voice), and that's the most revolutionary insight of all.
The greatest feminists have also been the greatest lovers. I'm thinking not only of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley, but of Anais Nin, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and of course Sappho. You cannot divide creative juices from human juices. And as long as juicy women are equated with bad women, we will err on the side of being bad.
Books go out into the world, travel mysteriously from hand to hand, and somehow find their way to the people who need them at the times when they need them ... Cosmic forces guide such passings-along.
Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love and loyalty. They depart to teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces an old dog; it merely expands the heart. If you have loved many dogs, your heart is very big.
The desire for magic cannot be eradicated. Even the most supposedly rational people attempt to practice magic in love and war. We simultaneously possess the most primitive of brain stems and the most sophisticated of cortices. The imperatives of each coexist uneasily.
Growing up female in America. What a liability! You grew up with your ears full of cosmetic ads, love songs, advice columns, whoreoscopes, Hollywood gossip, and moral dilemmas on the level of TV soap operas. What litanies the advertisers of the good life chanted at you! What curious catechisms!
Language matters because whoever controls the words controls the conversation, because whoever controls the conversation controls its outcome, because whoever frames the debate has already won it, because telling the truth has become harder and harder to achieve in an America drowning in Orwellian Newspeak.
I'm not classically pretty; I've always been too heavy; I've had thyroid disease and it's very hard for me to lose weight - but I've always had men pursue me. I've always had that 'it' thing. God knows why. Maybe it's pheromones, I don't know.
I think that the joy of writing a novel is the self-exploratio n that emerges and also that wonderful feeling of playing God with the characters. When I sit down at my writing desk, time seems to vanish. ... I think the most important thing for a writer is to be locked in a study.
You reach a point in life where you realize that you might as well do what you need to do, because your being loved or not being loved is really a function of the people you encounter and not of yourself. That is an immensely liberating insight.
Isn't it our job to be appalled by our parents? Isn't it every generation's duty to be dismayed by the previous generation? And to assert that we are different - only to discover later that we are distressingly the same?
In a certain sense, you do write to seduce the world, but when it happens, you begin to feel like a whore. The disparity between your life and your work turns out to be as great as ever. And the people seduced by your work are usually seduced by all the wrong reasons.
As a seasoned insomniac, I knew sometimes the way to beat sleeplessness was to outwit it: to pretend you didn't care about sleeping. Then sometimes sleep became piqued, like a rejected lover, and crept up to try to seduce you.
Many people today believe that cynicism requires courage. Actually, cynicism is the height of cowardice. It is innocence and open-heartednes s that requires the true courage -- however often we are hurt as a result of it.
I hope we don't have to keep going back over the same territory and winning the same rights over and over again. The battle for birth control. The battle for abortion. The parity of women's health. It's very depressing to think that you win these rights, but then you have to win them again, and again, and again, and fight the same battles over and over.
I know so many women in their fifties, sixties and seventies who delight in being on their own. It's amazing. They don't see any stigma attached to it. We don't need a man to prove our identity anymore.
I believe that women should live for love, for motherhood and for intellect, and I believe we shouldn't have to choose. And I believe that's always been difficult for women, to express themselves intellectually, maternally, and passionately.
The problem with feminism in the second wave was that we fought so much among ourselves, and I think we did so much damage to the movement... and I think the next wave, the third wave, is women mentoring younger women and women helping younger women to enter the political process and the writing world.
The only difference between men and women is that women are able to create new little human beings in their bodies while simultaneously writing books, driving tractors, working in offices, planting crops - in general, doing everything men do.
What I would like to give my daughter is freedom. And this is something that must be given by example, not exhortation. Freedom is a loose leash, license to be different from your mother and still be loved...Freedom is...not insisting that your daughter share your limitations. Freedom also means letting your daughter reject you when she needs to and come back when she needs to. Freedom is unconditional love.
I don't know what the definition of pornography is and nobody else does either. Pornography is somebody else's erotica that you don't like. People are interested in their own sexuality and they've always reflected it in their art. End of story.
I see the whole episode in my memory as if it were a very crisply photographed black and white movie. Directed by Bergman perhaps.We are playing ourselves in the movie version. If only we could escape from always having to play ourselves !
I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged...I had poems which were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.
I am not quite sure how writing changes things, but I know that it does. It is indirect-like the trails of earthworms aerating the earth. It is not always deliberate-like the tails of glowing dust dragged by comets.
But come back in November or December, in February or March, when the fog, la nebbia, settles upon the city like a marvelous monster, and you will have little trouble believing that things can appear and disappear in this labyrinthine city, or that time here could easily slip in its sprockets and take you, willingly or unwillingly, back.
Women in America read 'lifestyle' pages which are really glorifications of shopping. They teach us we must veil ourselves in make-up to be loved. And we willingly take the veil, thinking ourselves freed by it. Make-up is no more optional for us than the veil is for Arab women: it is our Western version of the chador.
I didn't believe in systems. Everything human was imperfect and ultimately absurd. What did I believe in then? In humor. In laughing at systems, at people, at one's self. In laughing even at one's need to laugh all the time. In seeing life as contradictory, many-sided, various, funny, tragic, and with moments of outrageous beauty. In seeing life as a fruitcake, including delicious plums and bad peanuts, but meant to be devoured hungrily all the same because you couldn't feast on the plums without also sometimes being poisoned by the peanuts.
The bruise on the heart which at first feels incredibly tender to the slightest touch eventually turns all the shades of the rainbow and stops aching. We forget about it. We even forget we have hearts until the next time. And then we wonder how we ever could have forgotten. We think this one is better, because, in fact, we cannot fully remember the time before.
There is this tendency to think that if you could only find the magic way, then you could become a poet. "Tell me how to become a poet. Tell me what to do." . . . What makes you a poet is a gift for language, an ability to see into the heart of things, and an ability to deal with important unconscious material. When all these things come together, you're a poet. But there isn't one little gimmick that makes you a poet. There isn't any formula for it.
In a world where women work three times as hard for half as much, our achievement has been denigrated, both marriage and divorce have turned against us, our motherhood has been used as an obstacle to our success, our passion as a trap, our empathy for others as an excuse to underpay us.
I do believe that in every age there are people whose consciousness transcends their own time and that these people, whether fictional or historical, are those with whom we most closely identify and those about whom we most enjoy reading.
My advice to you is get married: if you find a good wife you'll be happy; if not, you'll become a philosopher." - Socrates (470-399 B.C.) "Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't
Throughout much of history, women writers have capitulated to male standards, and have paid too much heed to what Virginia Woolf calls "the angel in the house." She is that little ghost who sits on one's shoulder while one writes and whispers, "Be nice, don't say anything that will embarrass the family, don't say anything your man will disapprove of ..." [ellipsis in original] The "angel in the house" castrates one's creativity because it deprives one of essential honesty, and many women writers have yet to win the freedom to be honest with themselves.
I understand that unless you have a government of laws, rather than a government of people, you cannot protect dissent. And I understand, as a woman who probably would have been burned in the marketplace for witchcraft only about 200 years ago, that I need the First Amendment more than anybody does. And that even if I am repelled by child pornography or Bob Guccione's productions, that I have to protect those things, because essentially it's in my self-interest to do so.
Beware of books. They are more than innocent assemblages of paper and ink and string and glue. If they are any good, they have the spirit of the author within. Authors are rogues and ruffians and easy lays. They are gluttons for sweets and savories. They devour life and always want more. They have sap, spirit, sex. Books are panderers. The Jews are not wrong to worship books. A real book has pheromones and sprouts grass through its cover.
I myself hate that old Hemingwayesque paradigm of the writer as prizefighter and I have tried hard to create an alternate one for myself. When Anne Sexton admonished me, "We are all writing God's poem," I took it to mean there should be no competition between writers because we are all involved in a common project, a common prayer. But to Gore's and Norman's generation, particularly those male writers who served in the second world war, the prizefighter paradigm remains.
What makes a Man love Death, Fanny? Is it because he hopes to avert his own by watchin' the Deaths of others? Doth he hope to devour Death by devourin' Executions with his Eyes? I'll ne'er understand it, if I live to be eight hundred Years. The Human Beast is more Beast than Human, 'tis true ...
But we should ask the question: Why should a writer be more than a writer? Why should a writer be a guru? Why are we supposed to be psychiatrists? Isn't it enough to write and tell the truth? It's not like telling the truth is common. Writers are the earthworms of society. We aerate the soil. That's enough.
Mediocre prose might be read as an escape, might be spoken on television by actors, or mouthed in movies. But mediocre poetry did not exist at all. If poetry wasn't good, it wasn't poetry. It was that simple.
Silence is the bluntest of blunt instruments. It seems to hammer you into the ground. It drives you deeper and deeper into your own guilt. It makes the voices inside your head accuse you more viciously than any outside voices ever could.
It is a sad paradox that when male authors impersonate women ... they are said to be dealing with 'cosmic, major concerns' - but when we impersonate ourselves we are said to be writing 'women's fiction' or 'women's poetry.
Writing is one of the few professions left where you take all the responsibility for what you do. It's really dangerous and ultimately destroys you as a writer if you start thinking about responses to your work or what your audience needs.
O what is it about having one's own Babe upon one's Hip that makes a Woman wish to go home to her Mother? A Desire to say: 'Look, the Circle is compleat'? A Desire to say: 'Look, I have cross'd the Divide and now am more like you'? A Desire to say: 'Look, this Babe I offer you is my most precious Gift'?
it is not unusual to hate great writers before we learn to love them. Because they have created something that did not yet exist, they must also create their audience. Sometimes the audience is not yet ready. Sometimes it has yet to be born.
Venice is ever the fragile labyrinth at the edge of the sea and it reminds us how brief and perilous the journeys of our lives are; perhaps that is why we love it so. City of plagues and brief liaisons, city of lingering deaths and incendiary loves, city of chimeras, nightmares, pigeons, bells. You are the only city in the world whose dialect has a word for the shimmer of canal water reflected on the ceiling of a room.
[Henry Miller] was such a scribomaniac that even when he lived in the same house as Lawrence Durrell they often exchanged letters. For most of his life, Henry wrote literally dozens of letters a day to people he could have easily engaged in conversation - and did. The writing process, in short, was essential. As it is to all real writers, writing was life and breath to him. He put out words as a tree puts out leaves.
To name oneself is the first act of both the poet and the revolutionary. When we take away the right to an individual name, we symbolically take away the right to be an individual. Immigration officials did this to refugees; husbands routinely do it to wives.
We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly...spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.- Susan Taylor--Everyone has a talent. What is rare is the courage to nurture it in solitude and to follow the talent to the dark places where it leads.
Women really must have equal pay for equal work, equality in work at home, and reproductive choices. Men must press for these things also. They must cease to see them as "women's issues" and learn that they are everyone's issues - essential to survival on planet Earth.
Generations of women have sacrificed their lives to become their mothers. But we do not have that luxury any more. The world has changed too much to let us have the lives our mothers had. And we can no longer afford the guilt we feel at not being our mothers. We cannot afford any guilt that pulls us back to the past. We have to grow up, whether we want to or not. We have to stop blaming men and mothers and seize every second of our lives with passion. We can no longer afford to waste our creativity. We cannot afford spiritual laziness.
No one to blame! That was why most people led lives they hated, with people they hated. How wonderful to have someone to blame! How wonderful to live with one's nemesis! You may be miserable, but you feel forever in the right. You may be fragmented, but you feel absolved of all the blame for it. Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.
A baby's a full time job for three adults. Nobody tells you that when you're pregnant, or you'd probably jump off a bridge. Nobody tells you how all-consuming it is to be a mother-how reading goes out the window and thinking too.
At certain historic moments, grandparents took on childrearing responsibilities. In many cultures, they still do. Chinese grandparents who are able to retire at 55 are seen all over Beijing bouncing grandbabies. In the United States, we can't afford to retire at 55.
I'm interested in what happens to people when they get into that publicity machine. We tend to think things have changed, but there's still a deep sexism underlying the way women are treated publicly.
If you don't have time to do it right you must have time to do it right you must have time to do it over. If you don't know where you are going, how do you know when you get there? If you don't risk anything, you risk even more.
certain very old people reach an age where every funeral becomes some sort of insane confirmation of strength, rather than of vulnerability, as it is when we are in our thirties or forties and our friends die.
It is the artists who make the true value of the world, though at times they may have to starve to do it. They are like earthworms, turning up the soil so things can grow, eating dirt so that the rest of us may eat green shoots.
A man assumes that a woman's refusal is just part of a game. Or, at any rate, a lot of men assume that. When a man says no, it's no. When a woman says no, it's yes, or at least maybe. There is even a joke to that effect. And little by little, women begin to believe in this view of themselves.
The camera creates a magical transformation. It's not enough to exist; we must chronicle that existence. ... Narrative- and image-making creatures like humans don't feel any experience is complete unless it's recorded.
we need poetry most at those moments when life astounds us with losses, gains, or celebrations. We need it most when we are most hurt, most happy, most downcast, most jubilant. Poetry is the language we speak in times of greatest need. And the fact that it is an endangered species in our culture tells us that we are in deep trouble.
What all the ads and whorescopes seemed to imply was that if only you took proper care of your smells, your hair, your boobs, your eyelashes, your armpits, your crotch, your stars, your scars, your choice of Scotch in bars - you would meet a beautiful powerful, potent, and rich man who would satisfy every longing, fill every hole, make your heart skip a beat (or stand still), make you misty, and fly you to the moon (preferably on gossamer wings), where you would live totally satisfied forever.
I am against censorship. I prefer the chaos of uncontrollable communication of all sorts to selective banning of certain materials. I do not think human beings can be trusted to be above politics and to promote the common good. One group's common good is another group's evil.
If we ban whatever offends any group in our diverse society, we will soon have no art, no culture, no humor, no satire. Satire is by its nature offensive. So is much art and political discourse. The value of these expressions far outweighs their risk.
I tried to keep myself away from him by using con words like "fidelity" and "adultery", by telling myself that he would interfere with my work, that I had him I'd be too happy to write. I tried to tell myself I was hurting Bennett, hurting myself, making a spectacle of myself. I was. But nothing helped. I was possessed. The minute he walked into a room and smiled at me, I was a goner.
But if the gods do not exist at all - then we are lost,' I said. On the contrary - we are found!' said Aesop. But when we are afraid, who can we turn to, if not the gods?' Ourselves. We turn to ourselves anyway. We only pretend there are gods and that they care about us. It is a comforting falsehood.
Denounce useless guilt. Don't make a cult of suffering. Live in the now(or at least the soon). Always do the things you fear most. Courage is an acquired taste like caviar. Trust all joy. If the evil eye fixes you in its gaze, look elsewhere. Get ready to be 87.
The absolute bedrock of our independence is having control over our own bodies. You cannot be independent if the government or someone else says whether or not you can use birth control. Unless you're in charge of your body, you're not in charge of anything. I think that's really the bottom line of feminism.
It's useful to know how much society's holding you back. My mother would talk about how she was told by the head of her art school that she was the best painter, but that she wouldn't get the biggest prize because she would waste her talent by having children. I think we have to get honest with girls about how they can expect the world to block them, and we have to prepare girls, and ourselves, to break through those blocks.
The only rule I have when writing is to try to tell the truth. That doesn't mean you can't exaggerate, edit, rewrite things to make them more dramatic. But emotional truth is what I look for in writing.
Not everybody has to be a parent. In fact, in an overpopulated world where our resources are shrinking, it would be wonderful if people who didn't want children felt free to say so. In the 1970s, there was more tolerance for the idea that not everybody needs to be a biological parent.
Feminism is really the right of women to be full human beings and to not be defined only by their childbearing function. Feminism is really the right of women to be human beings. That's it, yet that's so frightening to a lot of people. A full human being wants satisfying work and love. A full human being is entitled to both, and is not simply defined by only one aspect of her being.
You have to enjoy being a woman. Why should being a woman be such a negative thing where you always have to improve yourself? I have never in my entire life met a man who didn't want to go to bed with me because I was too fat.
I actually think leaving your children alone to fantasize, to write, to make projects on their own is good for them. Breathing down their necks is a form of control. Children should have their own space.
I have enormous pride in the survival of the Jewish people, the cultural heritage of the Jewish people, but I'm not observant, and I don't belong to a synagogue. I don't go to temple on high holy days, but I'm proud to be Jewish.
I was always a feminist. My mother was a feminist; my grandmother was a feminist. I always understood women had to fight very hard to do what they wanted to do in the world - that it wasn't an easy choice. But I think the most important part is that we all want the right to be taken seriously as human beings, and to use our talents without reservation, and that's still not possible for women.
As women, we can't look old. We can't be fat. We're supposed to look like the 14-year-old models in Vogue, who are younger and younger and skinnier and skinnier, and they are air-brushed and contoured and Photoshopped.