“I suppose the truth is I became a little self-conscious about people telling me how much they loved my sentences,” says James Salter in his interview with Jonathan Lee. “It’s flattering, but it seemed to me that this love of sentences was in some sense getting in the way of the book itself.”
“Mining and incarceration are both looming presences on the West Virginia landscape—both willfully obscured and misrepresented, their growth slopes neatly inverted. Mining is an industry in decline; incarceration is on the rise. The number of inmates in West Virginia has quadrupled since 1990. People with political influence and powerful economic interests allow the state to be exploited by new industries in order to repair the damage old industries have caused.
In the false American imagination, West Virginia is a joke or else it’s a charity case; but more than anything it is unseen, an invisible architecture of labor and struggle; and incarceration shares this invisibility, hidden at the center of everything; our slipshod remedy for an abiding fear, danger pinned to human bodies and then slotted into bunk beds you can’t see from any highway.”
From “Fog Count” by Leslie Jamison
April is the cruelest month, I’ve heard a poet say
But not for me because there’s Poem in Your Pocket Day
Each year, I get to publish my new verse – it’s quite a perk
Too bad reporters always ask me to describe my work
And stop guarding that heart! (This is true for both writers and contestants on The Bachelor — it’s the only way to win. That, and being a sweet Southern girl with a killer bod.) Amy Hempel has quoted her teacher Gordon Lish as saying, “Wear your heart on the page, and people will read to find out how you solved being alive.” Amen, amen, amen.
“Faced with such misery, a little spiritual compromise doesn’t look like such a bad thing. That [Charles] Baudelaire was incapable of such compromise was his undoing and our good fortune. Like a blasphemous Jesus, he took on our worst sins — pride, sloth, envy, lechery — and turned them into art.”
The Poet Who Died for Our Sins: On Charles Baudelaire by Stephen Akey
“I’m guarding my heart. I saw a colleague a couple nights ago and we talked about standing on the ledge of a writing project but not wanting to get too involved because what if this is not the one? What if it’s not a book? So I need to get honest. I’m stuck at a three pronged fork in the road — a spork. I’m stuck at a spork in the road.”
“These thoughts begin, for most of us, typically, in childhood, when we are making eye contact with a pet or wild animal. I go back to our first family dog, a preternaturally intelligent-seeming Labrador mix, the kind of dog who herds playing children away from the street at birthday parties, an animal who could sense if you were down and would nuzzle against you for hours, as if actually sharing your pain. I can still hear people, guests and relatives, talking about how smart she was. “Smarter than some people I know!” But when you looked into her eyes—mahogany discs set back in the grizzled black of her face—what was there? I remember the question forming in my mind: can she think? The way my own brain felt to me, the sensation of existing inside a consciousness, was it like that in there?”
- John Jeremiah Sullivan on animal consciousness