Sphere Of Influence

When Shakespeare commits lexical excess (by coining new words, by larding simple thought with plump dense sounds and metaphors, by hyper-enlivening every sentiment with figurative language), English becomes a body punctured by his violent actions. Example: ‘the murmuring surge / That th’unumb’red idle pebbles chafes / Cannot be heard so high.’ ‘Murmuring’ and ‘surge; and ‘unnumb’red’ present to the ear a glut of u and m and r sounds. And ‘idle’ and ‘pebble’, next to each other, create a pebble effect. With purple ripeness, low-pitched vowels (murmuring surge) ascend to high-pitched vowels (high). This apex of virtuosity - language creaming, ascending, and thickening.

—Wayne Koestenbaum from Humiliation

Felix Edouart Vallaton Gertrude Stein (1907)

Felix Edouart Vallaton Gertrude Stein (1907)

'I do not love Man. I love what devours him. Now, what devours Man? - His eagle.'

—Andre Gide from Marshlands and Prometheus Misbound

Batolozzi Tityus Devoured by the Vulture

Batolozzi Tityus Devoured by the Vulture

I reached that odd point when you are no longer young, and yet you’re still not old. You become a kind of centaur: half the person you used to be, half somebody else; that point when there is more you do not care about and less and less you do - you are in no man’s land; you keep moving, but not because you will get anywhere.

—Benjamin Prado from Not Only Fire

Hannah Hoch (c. 1926)

Hannah Hoch (c. 1926)

Am in the middle of a spreading light,
my hands inspired, the world beautiful.
Cannot stop looking at trees:
they’re so hopeful and so green.
A sunny pathway stretches beyond the mulberries,
I stand before the window in the prison hospital,
cannot smell the smell of medicine:
somewhere carnations must be in bloom.
That’s how it goes, my friend.
The problem is not falling a captive,
it’s how to avoid surrender.

—Nazim Hikmet ‘That’s How it Goes’ (Bursa prison, 1948) (trans. Taner Baybars)

Henry de Braekeleer At the Window in Antwerp

Henry de Braekeleer At the Window in Antwerp

Poetry is an opening of the doors of rooms that are never fully known.

—Brendan Kennelly from the ‘Introduction’ to Breathing Spaces

I went to the City Library and tried to write a poem to the dead man’s memory. Nothing came of it but a few pitiful lines which I tore up in shame. But out of that shame, out of that impotence and grief, something was born - something which I believe was the desire to become a writer; that is to say, to be able to tell of what it is to mourn, to have been loved, to be left lonely.

—Stig Dagerman