Category Archives: writers

“But man has always succeeded in rising again.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Today is the birthday of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Here is an extraordinary excerpt from Wind, Sand and Stars – a book I last read in high school, when I was in my Richard Bach-airplane-writing-soulmate-search phase. Listen to this prose. And … Continue reading

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“I know why the caged bird sings, ah me…” — poet Paul Laurence Dunbar

It’s the birthday of poet/novelist/playwright/editor Paul Laurence Dunbar. The child of freed slaves, he was publishing poetry when he was still a teenager, and went on to be the first Black American writer who gained an international reputation. He was … Continue reading

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“[Poetry is] a way of trying to come to peace with the world.” — poet Lucille Clifton

It’s her birthday today. Rita Dove said of Lucille Clifton’s body of work: In contrast to much of the poetry being written today—-intellectualized lyricism characterized by an application of inductive thought to unusual images—-Lucille Clifton’s poems are compact and self-sufficient…Her … Continue reading

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“I knew that I had a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts.” — George Orwell

Orwell was born on this day. When Animal Farm was released in a new edition, Christopher Hitchens (one of THE people you need to read if you want to understand Orwell, besides Orwell himself), wrote specifically about the quote from … Continue reading

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“And the role of the fatal chorus / I agree to take on” — Anna Akhmatova

“This I pray at your liturgy After so many tormented days, So that the stormcloud over darkened Russia Might become a cloud of glorious rays.” — Anna Akhmatova, “Prayer” Anna Akhmatova – born Anna Andreyevna Gorenko on this day – … Continue reading

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“You don’t want to see ‘plots’. You want to see stories develop.” — Billy Wilder

Billy and Audrey Wilder It’s his birthday today. I love him for his humor, his cynical pessimistic view of human beings – which, honestly, just feels realistic, his versatility with material (noirs, melodramas, war movies, comedies). Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, … Continue reading

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“I like variety in poetry. I love how it comes in so many guises. As rock lyric, as rap, as note on a fridge.” — Irish poet Paul Muldoon

“I’m very much against expressing a categorical view of the world. I hope I can continue to discover something, and not to underline or bolster up what I already know.” – Paul Muldoon It’s his birthday today. A giant in … Continue reading

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“There are a great many colored people who are ashamed of the cake-walk, but I think they ought to be proud of it.” — James Weldon Johnson

“Nothing will do more to change that mental attitude and raise his status than a demonstration of intellectual parity by the Negro through the production of literature and art.” – James Weldon Johnson, preface to The Book of American Negro … Continue reading

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“That is no country for old men.” — William Butler Yeats

“I thought we might bring the halves together if we had a national literature that made Ireland beautiful in the memory, and yet had been freed of provincialism by an exacting criticism, a European pose.” — W.B. Yeats William Butler … Continue reading

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“I am the most famous unknown of the century.” — Djuna Barnes

When Barnes called herself a “famous unknown” she may have been being elliptical or ironic. Her writing was not known for its literal through-line. But she was also very well-known for her love affairs with women, and immortalized in print … Continue reading

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