An eclection of insights into the nature of writing and being a writer. 

Scribbles in the sand

Scribbles in the sand

In Couto's superb novel, a disturbed father tries to isolate his sons from life and learning by taking them to a remote place and denying them any access to writing.   The older brother teaches the younger one in secret, always at risk of dire punishment.  As a new...

Like the last of his life

Like the last of his life

Harold Bloom's comment on Hart Crane (1899-1932) is all the more poignant knowing that Crane considered some of his major work to have been a failure, suffered recurring bouts of alcoholism, and appears to have committed suicide when he jumped overboard a ship he was...

Poetry as gleaning

Poetry as gleaning

A telling comment by Christopher Isherwood on W.H. Auden's approach to revising his poems. It makes one wonder how many scholars have wasted hours peering deeply into some poem of 'celebrated obscurity' which was never more than an accretion of lines that had passed...

Of abundant overflow

Of abundant overflow

What causes creativity to spring forth?  I like Seamus Heaney's idea that it is not so much reactive as a generous overflow from an abundant internal source.This then is truly creative writing.  It does arise from the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings, but the...

All good publishers have a department of exceptions.

Gabriel Zaid – So Many Books

Nonsense daubers

Folly, speaking from her light-hearted pulpit, lays into another bunch of self-serious fools, those who write books, or as she...

Poetry as a boat

Another maritime metaphor in Heaney's introduction to a poem set in a sea-world.  The ‘big quay’ of language and literature can...

Time and poets

This summary of where Mandelstam places the poet versus the ‘man of letters’ on the time spectrum intrigues me.  Yes,...


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