I have not been at all faithful with first-of-the-month postings, but ‘tis the season for re-commitments. And in that vein I’ll continue as I did last January with a quote calendar for 2019, containing snippets and bleeding chunks of texts from humanoids describing something of the creative temperament (plus perhaps a bit more besides) in a humanoid life. Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!


JanuaryJohn O’Donohue, philosopher and poet, 1956 – 2008. “You can’t set out to ‘do’ beauty, like in a how-to kind of manual. What we bring to beauty is the opposite capacity, that receptivity to be overtaken by it.” [from an unedited interview with Krista Tippett, https://bit.ly/2s0gegZ]

February: Grace Paley, poet, short-story author, teacher, political activist, 1922 – 2007. “The best training is to read and write, no matter what. Don’t live with a lover or a roommate who doesn’t respect your work. Don’t lie, buy time, borrow to buy time. Write what will stop your breath if you don’t write.” [from 1992 “Paris Review” interview]

March: Gordon Parks, photographer, musician, writer, film director, 1912 – 2006. “Like souls touching, poetry, music, paint, and the camera keep calling, and I can’t bring myself to say no. All those things have become like alien wonders, beckoning. And finding no need to ask pardon of myself, I pursue them. Their mystery is as inescapable as air is from the wind.” [from his foreword to “Arias in Silence”, 1994]

April: Sylvia Plath, poet, 1932 – 1963. “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” [from her unabridged journals.]

May: Anne Truitt, sculptor, 1921 – 2004. “I take it for granted that everyone and everything around me is moving independently of any reference to me, so I looked at [my grandson] Sammy’s drawing impartially. I failed to recognize immediately that in this instance my grandson was like me: a person who wanted to make his experience real for others and who set about to do so.” [from “Turn: The Journal of an Artist”]

June: Marc Riboud, photographer, 1923 ­– 2016. “The right photo strikes the eye the way the right chord strikes the ear.” [from “Contacts: Volume 1”]

July: Alan Bennett, playwright, screenwriter, author, actor, b. 1934. “Never underestimate the role of the will in the artist’s life. Talent you can dispense with but not will. Some artists are all will.” [from “Keeping On Keeping On”]

August: Anne Lamott, writer, b. 1954. “What people somehow (inadvertently, I’m sure) forget to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here—and, by extension, what we’re supposed to be writing.” [from “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life”]

September: Sally Mann, photographer, writer, b. 1951. “Ordinary art is what I am making. I am a regular person doggedly making ordinary art. But as Ted Orland and David Bayles point out in their book Art and Fear, ‘ordinary art’ is the art that most of us, those of us not Proust or Mozart, actually make. If Proust-like genius were the prerequisite for art, then statistically speaking very little of it would exist. Art is seldom the result of true genius; rather, it is the product of hard work and skills learned and tenaciously practiced by regular people. In my case, I practice my skills despite repeated failures and self-doubt so profound it can masquerade outwardly as conceit. It’s not heroic in any way. To the contrary, it’s plodding, obdurate effort. I make bad picture after bad picture week after week until the relief comes: the good new picture that offers benediction.” [from “Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs]

October: Martin Luther, professor, monk, composer, 1483 ­– 1546. “Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but …” (“Sei ein Sünder und habe starke Sünden, aber…”) [Sometimes translated as “Sin boldly”, contained a letter written in 1521 to encourage a dispirited Philip Melancthon. A good translation of the whole letter can be found at https://bit.ly/2ETUpHH]

November: Max Kozloff, art historian, art critic, photographer, b. 1933. “Many portraits following [Diane] Arbus reveal a current of liberalism, laced with irony, and possibly a bad conscience. Yet it was to their credit that, on the whole, they neither condescended to nor romanticized their sitters. They teach that the first real step in one’s understanding of others is to get beneath stereotypes, to show people who do not hesitate to exist, regardless of generalizations about them. These picture-makers were often upright, intrepid characters, though not on the side of the Angels. When I think otherwise, I say so, and explain why.” [from “The Theatre of the Face”]

December: Harold Speed, painter, 1872 ­– 1957. “Originality is more concerned with sincerity than with peculiarity.” [from “The Practice and Science of Drawing”]