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A Research Guide for Chinese Scholars: Writing

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The Art & Craft of Writing: Quotes


Talent and Writing

"Everybody is talented, original, and has something important to say."     
             ~ Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book on Art, Independence and Spirit 

What is duende? How is duende related to writing?

"These dark sounds are the mystery, the roots thrusting into the fertile loam known to all of us, ignored by all of us, but from which we get what is real in art. . . .

"Thus duende is a power and not a behavior, it is a struggle and not a concept. I have heard an old master guitarist say: ‘Duende is not in the throat; duende surges up from the soles  of the feet.’ Which means it is not a matter of ability, but of  real live form; of blood; of ancient culture; of creative action."  
            ~ More on duende

On Inspiration

"This mysterious thing we call Inspiration isn’t that easy to pinpoint. But it’s the strange and wonderful thing about writing poetry – you can never predict where or when or even why something moves you to write a poem. That’s what I mean when I said a poem comes in many guises. A poem may be inspired by something that happened 20 years ago but until I’ve written it, I may not have realized that at the time I was greatly moved. I think you have to trust that the eye and mind are constantly recording, and be patient enough for them to reveal what they have observed."
              ~Elizabeth Bishop, Conversations with Elizabeth Bishop, 100

The Making of Art/ the Poem

"During this long journey I found the necessary components for the making of the poem. There I received contributions from the earth and from the soul. And I believe that poetry is an action, ephemeral or solemn, in which there enter as equal partners solitude and solidarity, emotion and action, the nearness to oneself, the nearness to mankind and to the secret manifestations of nature."
                ~Pablo Neruda, from his Nobel Lecture, "Towards the Splendid City"



"To make a poem, we must make sounds. Not random sounds, but chosen sounds.  

Language is rich, and malleable. It is a living, vibrant material, and every part of a poem works in conjunction with every other part – the content, the pace, the diction, the rhythm, the tone – as well as the very sliding, floating, thumping, rapping sounds of it."
              ~ Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook 


"Touch Me" by Stanley Kunitz

Stanley Kunitz on Poetry and Life

"The Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver

 "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" by Langston Hughes

"Learning to Love America" by Shirley Geok-Lin Lim

"Love for this Book" by Pablo Neruda

"Ode to the Book II" by Pablo Neruda

The Art & Craft of Writing: Books & Essays

Brenda Ueland

Mary Oliver

  • A Poetry Handbook
    Read 3 chapters: Sound -- More devices of sound -- Diction, tone, voice.

Tina Welling 
A premier internet site for poetry, prose, and reference sources. 


Essays & Stories


William Zinsser

Amy Tan 

  • "Mother Tongue"
    The Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, Guardian First Book Award, and California Book Award for first fiction.

George Orwell

Yiyun Li

Jhumpa Lahiri


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