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Art and writing

Excerpt from The Painter: A Novel of Pursuit



April's eyes are still downcast. Then she looks up and catches sight of me, and I see a ripple of delight slide across her face, which does more for my morale than any number of vodka tonics. She abandons her chattering admirers and comes across the room at once. She stops in front of me, and stares at me with a questing expression.

"Where’ve you been, sailor?" I say.

"I followed your advice," she says gravely. "I went to the desert, ate locusts and prayed for faith."

April pray for faith? From the look in her eyes, I’d say all she’s prayed for are new ways of getting me to sing hymns in her crypt.

" I’ve decided," she says quietly, "to become a writer."

A writer! My first thought is that April’s as likely to become a writer as I’m to become a pirate. The deepest reading I’ve seen her do is the catalogue of Victoria’s Secret. from The Painter: A Novel of Pursuit, page 65

Other quotations on art and writing

A good way of working out what one thinks of a particular writer is to start by establishing what he thinks of himself.
    D.J.Taylor


One learns in due course.. that more often than not, it is better to keep deeply held views about oneself to oneself.
    Anthony Powell


An artist writing about art is like a foxhound writing about fox hunting: vested interests apply.
    Charles Darwent


Solitary writers, solitary readers, unsocialized, silent, engaging with each other by means of the page. It is, when you come to think of it, a bit creepy - a relationship of intense absence.
    Jenny Diski


Reading Henry Miller is as boring as being stuck with a braggart at a party.
    Frances Wilson


Robert Graves felt too comfortable with writing, not sensing its strangeness, danger or pitfalls and he consequently wrote too much.
    Frances Wilson


I write three sentences which I erase before leaving the table in despair... I want to howl and foam at the mouth, but I daren't do it for fear of waking the baby and alarming my wife.
    Joseph Conrad


I want to illumine things with my intelligence and project their reflection on other minds.
    Charles Baudelaire


To speak, and to write, is to assert who we are, what we think. The necessary other side is to surrender these things - to stand humbled and stunned and silent before the wild and inexplicable beauties and mysteries of being.
    Jane Hirshfield: Nine Gates, page 221


Poetry's work is the clarification and magnification of being.
    Jane Hirshfield: Nine Gates, page vii.


The greatest poet has less a marked style and is more a free channel of himself.
    Walt Whitman


We return to Shakespeare's sonnets to learn not about Shakespeare's life but about our own.
    Jane Hirshfield: Nine Gates, page 35


Poetry is what gets lost in translation.
    Robert Frost


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The Painter by Stephen Denning

The Painter

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Sonnets by Stephen Denning

Sonnets 2000

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