Where does inspiration lie? Everywhere!

This is my attempt to pounce on and then shape the words I breathe.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

A Creator of Inwardness

Today The Paris Review posted A Creator of Inwardness, a fine remembrance of Susan Sontag, born today in 1933.  I quote:
I wouldn’t be the person I am, I wouldn’t understand what I understand, were it not for certain books. I’m thinking of the great question of nineteenth-century Russian literature: how should one live? A novel worth reading is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility, of what human nature is, of what happens in the world. It’s a creator of inwardness.
—Susan Sontag, 
The Art of Fiction No. 143

Elsewhere she wrote:

“My library is an archive of longings.” 

― Susan Sontag

This has been true for me, too.  Inwardness, desire and compassionin all of their complexitiesgrew in me through reading.


    Life was cushioned and dull until she 
entered books' portals and lived other lives 
besides her own—
     Dangerous dreaming time
in parallel universes she half
recognized in déjà vu dizziness—
    Naked characters dilemma-driven
at crossroads of life and death wrestling
with logic and emotion. 
     She listened whole-heartedly,
eavesdropping on mysteries of silence
that perplexed her in the everyday
with books shut and eyes on parents, pets,
teachers and classmates—
     She closed and hugged her novel
recognizing in nature each life as
a closed book with covers and inward
     She, too, designed a cover to protect
her inner spaciousness, growing like a tree
or iceberg greater beneath the surface.

Copyright © 2014 by S.L.Chast


  1. This is just beautiful, Susan. Just a joy to read.

  2. Books can certainly shape a person's life and personality, whether we realize it or not.
    I like the idea of living lives beside one's own through reading.

  3. Wowzers, Susan! Books were my ships and my lifesavers during the shipwreck years of my life so I relate to this very much. LOVE those closing lines. A wonderful poem!

  4. Dreaming in parallel universes this is powerful stuff..I really enjoyed the journey books open
    the doorways to adventures and creativity it keep the soul alive.

  5. Oh, I hear you with this Susan. Through books we can live other people's lives for a time & perhaps it is good sometime to allow ourselves this kind of reflection outside of ourselves. I enjoyed this poem & your thoughts.

  6. This is brilliant! Such power in your word use! It's very eloquent, makes me want to never stop reading.

  7. beautiful.. can relate to it..can't imagine life without books.

  8. Love the Sontag quotes. Indeed, a life without books would be a life without friends. Books are the friends teachers and mentors we could never hope to meet in our real lives. Literature is powerful..the reason facist regimes burn books and kill intellectuals first in a coup!

  9. It's easy to find a book that we think we like for its wit & humour but it's hard to find a book that tells a story of us even before we wrote it. "She closed and hugged her novel / recognizing in nature each life as / a closed book with covers and inward / dimensions— /  She, too, designed a cover to protect / her inner spaciousness, growing like a tree / or iceberg greater beneath the surface."---i particularly loved these lines.

  10. I remember this poem.
    ' Dangerous dreaming time
    in parallel universes she half
    recognized in déjà vu dizziness'
    I've been there before, i still am. Books are like a life in another dimension perhaps. And yes, each life is a book. I hope she changes her cover to show the world how deeply she's grown because of books.

  11. a closed book with covers and inward
    dimension...intriguing equating to a book,
    one thing we have to be careful of is that
    we still allow the book to be open as well

    books were a saving grace for me growing up,
    an escape, retreat...

  12. Beautiful poem. I believe everyone could associate themselves with this. Good job!

  13. I understand the magic and beauty of those words in the a book ~ They can transport you to a different place & time ~ Let the words grow like a tree ~

    Quotes are amazing, thanks ~

  14. I love this poem - and books, which I once used as a blueprint on How Others Lived, hoping to grab a clue. Now I read mostly memoir, as that still fascinates me - the differences and samenesses in our journeys.

  15. We can all relate to this Susan...love that inner spaciousness and the beautiful comparisons..

  16. Susan,

    I love that you have given a magnificent 'being,' to books. A great description to items I cherish and hold dear. Books are my oxygen, as they are facets of all lives:)


  17. Love 'inward
    dimensions' of books and how they reflects in each reader differently ~ Enjoyed reading!

  18. I can certainly relate to that, and love your magnificent closing lines. Also thank you for the Sontag quotes, reminding me of the way those great Russians stretched my soul in my teens.

  19. its unprecedented.I dont know you meant joy while writing it.but i feel some pain underneath or may be just feeling my own in it.Thanks for sharing i will save it coz i see my life in it.

  20. What a great ending to a beautiful poem!


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