“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
“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)
“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
“Crafting a sexual position … always involves becoming haunted by what is excluded. And the more rigid the position, the greater the ghost and the more threatening it is in some way.”—Judith Butler in conversation with Peter Osborne
“It was only when I was growing up that I realised my mother’s need, her loneliness, which led her to try to keep me at home on a wet cold day. She felt that by going to school I was abandoning her. I have observed this attitude towards people who write or compose or paint or in any way desert the living and visible world to create a world of their own that is a threat to the existence and survival of the generally known world.”—Janet Frame from The Memorial Room
“How can you not compare the photo of Chekhov at Yalta with his two little dogs, Touzik and Chataigne, to Cartier-Bresson’s photo of Faulkner, also with his two little dogs? Sometimes you find yourself in a setting, a landscape, even with a person, that gives you a sense of deja-vu.”—Roger Grenier from A Box of Photographs
“Dickinson’s envelope-poems resemble the distant migrants that do not come fully into focus and so never constitute a clearly delimitable constellation. The wind moves them. Time moves them. If, in a given moment, one or two seem to be in close touch, each in the next moment seems remote from the others, unassimilable to a larger figure, whose moving edges drift and blur. More importantly, perhaps, like homing birds gone astray, they have exchanged the hermetic exchange inherent in letters, those ‘fine and private things’ sent to one intimate and elite addressee, for the more elliptical but finally more far-reaching relations of poems.”—Marta Werner ‘A Directory of Envelope Writings’ from Emily Dickinson: The Gorgeous Nothings
“The air and its light are described as ‘melted’, ‘glazed’, ‘unctuous’, ‘elastic’, ‘fermenting’, ‘contracted’, ‘distended’, ‘solidified’, ‘distilled’, ‘scattered’, ‘liquid’, ‘woven’, ‘brittle’, ‘powdery’, ‘crumbing’, ‘embalmed’, ‘congealed’, ‘gummy’, ‘flaked’, ‘squeezed’, ‘frayed’, ‘pressed’, ‘percolated’, ‘vitalised’ and even ‘burning.”—Ever Kosofsky Sedgwick from The Weather in Proust
“The freeloader you found lying in your bed with his dirty shoes on when you came home late; the freeloader who smoked your cigars and filled his pipe with your tobacco and burned your coal and peered into your cupboards and borrowed your money and wore out your shoes and took your coat when he had to go home in the rain.”—Nescio from ‘The Freeloader’ in Amsterdam Stories
“Little clouds that look like bits of cotton wool are drifting before my windowpanes in the yellow blue. I speak these last words with the indolence of a divinely gifted layabout …”—Robert Walser from ‘Autumn (II)’ collected in Microscripts