“I don’t actually believe in writer’s block. I believe in fallow periods. I believe fallow periods are necessary to restore the fertility of a field. I believe that if you’re not writing and you’re worried about not writing, you’re likely to one day write again. That if you’re not writing and not worried about not writing, you may have found new things to do with your time, and that’s okay too.”
—Camille T. Dungy, in “Say Yes to Yourself: A Poet’s Guide to Living and Writing” in the May/June issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019)
“Translators don’t just use language—we shape it. This is true of everyone, but more than most we have the opportunity to carve the language into new forms, to graft onto it from other cultures. Language is not a static phenomenon, and we are not passive consumers of it. The choices we make are amplified as we create a body of work, as we teach and pass on our process.”
—Jeremy Tiang, in “The Art of Translation: Many Englishes, Many Chineses” in the March/April issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019)
“People always say the novel is dead. Who knows, but if it is the case, moments of crisis for any art form or any convention are always good. If that’s the case, it will force us to think of different ways of approaching, different ways of writing.”
—Valeria Luiselli, in “Angles of Experience” in the March/April issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019)
“Poetry is not about an event. It is the event. Art is the resistance of complacency: It always stands in opposition to numbness. That is why it just doesn’t die, poetry—despite so many death notices. It is always there, waking us up when we get numb, poking us in the eye.”
—Ilya Kaminsky, in Garth Greenwell’s “Still Dancing” interview in the March/April issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019)
“‘If you’re interested in African storytelling, realize that the trickster is telling the story, so the whole sense of authenticity and authority that we attach to storytelling—throw that out of the window. I knew I was going to write a hedonistic, queer, selfish character. I’m not interested in inner nobility. That’s a European, Christian narrative from the Crusades’”
—Marlon James, in Kima Jones’s “Shape-Shifter: A Profile of Marlon James” in the March/April issue of Poets & Writers Magazine; read the rest at pw.org!
“I remind myself that language isn’t my job. Writing a poem isn’t my job. My job is the human job of waiting and listening, and language is just what poets use—like wind chimes—to catch the sound of the larger, more essential thing. Wind chimes themselves are not the point. The point is the wind.”
—Jenny George, in “Wilder Forms: Our Fourteenth Annual Look at Debut Poets” in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019); read the rest at pw.org!
“I’ve decided I don’t always have to be writing. I let myself live and try to let go of the pressure to always physically write. In some ways it feels like I’m collecting feeling. That’s not to say I don’t sit down and try regularly to get something on the page, but it might not look like a poem. It might look like writing in a journal about what I’ve seen and heard that day. That process helps me feel more willing to listen to what’s possible rather than predetermine what I think I should be on the page.”
—Analicia Sotelo, in “Wilder Forms: Our Fourteenth Annual Look at Debut Poets” in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019); read the extended version on pw.org!
“I think that if you bang your head against the wall trying to create, you’re going to resent the process of creation. Usually when you reach an impasse it’s a signal to move on to another thing. Maybe you haven’t slept in a while. Maybe you need some time to ponder, to just stare at the wall. Maybe you need to live, truly be alive for a little and not near a computer. Maybe you need to read, see, watch—to refill your well.”
—Fatimah Asghar, in “Wilder Forms: Our Fourteenth Annual Look at Debut Poets” in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019); read the extended version on pw.org!