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Gwyneth Lewis

I came across a video on YouTube this morning from 2010, where the wonderful Gwyneth Lewis talks at Stanford University, discussing the inspiration and philosophy behind her methodology. Truly fascinating stuff. You can find it here.

When I’m writing or thinking, I find it useful to note down snippets of seemingly unrelated thought to return to later. Other people’s thoughts and insights are useful too, so with this in mind, here are some of my apparently random but perhaps interesting thoughts arising from listening to Gwyneth Lewis. Feel free to use them as you will. [Note: the sections in quotation marks are direct quotes from the video.]

  • Studying English Literature at university is great training for being a reader, but not necessarily for being a writer.
  • Life comes out of writing, rather than writing coming out of life.
  • “Writing gives you a second body.”
  • “Writing has little to do with feeling; it has to do with a permissive attitude towards your subconscious.”
  • “Poetry is a very shy animal and it comes only if you stand still for it.”
  • We’re all male and female within our brains.

If you’ve never read any of Gwyneth’s poetry, here’s one of my favourites to start you off:

‘One day, feeling hungry’

One day, feeling hungry, I swallowed the moon.
It stuck, like a wafer, to the top of my mouth,
dry as an aspirin. It slowly went down,

showing the gills of my vocal cords,
the folded wings in my abdomen,
the horrible twitch of my insect blood.

Lit from inside, I stood alone
(dark to myself) but could see from afar
the brightness of others who had swallowed stars.

(from Zero Gravity, 1998)

Copyright © Gwyneth Lewis 1998

If you want to find out more, Gwyneth has a really great website, which you can find here. I’d recommend visiting.

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