If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery
My heart is in my mind. I think this is why I am an artist.
— Nayyirah Waheed
I have no right to call myself one who knows. I was one who seeks, and still am, but I no longer seek in the stars or books; I’m beginning to hear the teaching of my blood pulsing within me. My story isn’t pleasant, it’s not sweet and harmonious like the invented stories; it tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves.
— Herman Hesse, excerpt from Demain
so that one day
a hundred years from now
another sister will not have to
dry her tears wondering where
in history she lost her voice
— Jasmine Kaur
The Blues is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one’s aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism. As a form, the Blues is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically.
— Ralph Ellison
Once, poets were magicians. Poets were strong, stronger than warriors or kings - stronger than hapless gods. And they will be strong once again.
— Greg Bear
Personal meaning lies at the confluence of your passions and your heartbreak.
— Pamela Chng
When will you learn that there isn’t a word for everything?
— Nicole Krauss
Good writers are monotonous, like good composers. They keep trying to perfect the one problem they were born to understand.
— Alberto Moravia
We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine.
— Eduardo Galeano
History teaches that our difficulties are not new.
— Evelyn Brooks-Higginbotham
Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.
— Alasdair Gray
All I have is a voice to undo the folded lie.
— W.H. Auden
You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in.
— Eliezer Yudkowsky
You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were Black and for no other reason. The limits to your ambition were thus expected to be settled. You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity and in as many ways as possible that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence. You were expected to make peace with mediocrity.
— James Baldwin, from A Letter to My Nephew (1962)
Stories are part of the most precious heritage of mankind.
— Tahir Shah
Beauty will save the world.
— Fyodor Dostoevsky
Strength is a matter of the made up mind.
— John Beecher
What a curious power words have.
— Tadeusz Borowski
A writer is a world trapped in a person.
— Victor Hugo
The poetry of the earth is never dead.
— John Keats
Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness.
— Katherine Henson
Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.
— Rumi
I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.
— Albert Einstein
If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years, how man would marvel and stare.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
If there is such a thing as being conditioned by climate and geography, and I think there is, it is the West that has conditioned me. It has the forms and lights and colors that I respond to in nature and in art. If there is a western speech, I speak it; if there is a western character or personality, I am some variant of it; if there is a western culture in the small-c, anthropological sense, I have not escaped it. It has to have shaped me. I may even have contributed to it in minor ways, for culture is a pyramid to which each of us brings a stone.
— Wallace Stegner
Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming.
— Myrna Loy
I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.
— J.G. Ballard
We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.
— William Shakespeare
I believe that we are arks of the covenant and our true nature is not rage or deceit or terror or logic or craft or even sorrow. It is longing.
— Cormac McCarthy, Whales and Men
The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.
— Isak Dinesen
Deserve it, then. Study, do your work. Be honest, frank and fearless and get some grasp of the real values of life. You will meet, of course, curious little annoyances. People will wonder at your dear brown and the sweet crinkley hair, but that simply is of no importance and will soon be forgotten. Remember that most folks laugh at anything unusual, whether it is beautiful, fine or not. You, however, must not laugh at yourself. You must know that brown is as pretty as white or prettier...

The main thing is the YOU beneath the clothes and skin - the ability to do, the will to conquer, the determination to understand and know this great, wonderful, curious world. Don’t shrink from new experiences and custom. Take the cold bath bravely...enjoy what is, and not pine for what is not. Read some good, heavy, serious books just for discipline. Take yourself in hand and master yourself. Make yourself do unpleasant things, so as to gain the upper hand of your soul.
— W.E.B. DuBois, to his soon-to-be 14-year-old daughter, Yolande, who left to study in England in 1914
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
— Max Ehrmann
We are the granddaughters of the witches you weren’t able to burn.
— Unknown
The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.
— Václav Havel