For Writers
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African American Quotes on Writing

great quotes and thoughts on writing from African American Quotes

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Writing

African-American legends in the field of literature share their thoughts on writing and how it impacts millions of people.

 

“As I am a poet I express what I believe, and I fight against whatever I oppose, in poetry.”

June Jordan

 

“By and large, the critics and readers gave me an affirmed sense of my identity as a writer. You might know this within yourself, but to have it affirmed by others is of utmost importance. Writing is, after all, a form of communication.”

Ralph Ellison

 

“Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn’t matter. I’m not sure a bad person can write a good book, If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for.”

Alice Walker, Wit and Wisdom of Famous American Women

 

“I also wanted to do something that I hadn’t really seen in almost any black novels, which was a complex love story in which both people were extremely intelligent and talented and understood a lot of things and were still at odds getting it together.”

Stanley Crouch, Stanley Crouch Interview

 

“I don’t want to say that these poems have to be simple, but I want to clarify my language. I want these poems to be free. I want them to be direct without sacrificing the kinds of music, the picture-making I’ve always been interested in.”

Gwendolyn Brooks

 

“I felt that I had to write. Even if I had never been published, I knew that I would go on writing, enjoying it and experiencing the challenge.”

Gwendolyn Brooks

 

“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Toni Morrison

 

“It is healthier, in any case, to write for the adults one’s children will become than for the children one’s ‘mature’ critics often are.”

Alice Walker

 

“Like every other book, it would be confined by a cover and limited to type. Nevertheless, it had to have for want of a better word a sound, a very special sound. A sound made up of all the elements that distinguished black life (its peculiar brand of irony, oppression, versatility, madness, joy, strength, shame, honor, triumph, grace and stillness) as well as those qualities that identified it with all of mankind (compassion, anger, foolishness, courage, self-deception and vision). And it must concentrate on life as lived-not as imagined-by the people: the anonymous men and women who speak.”

Toni Morrison, The Black Book

 

“Look at what’s happening in this world. Every day there’s something exciting or disturbing to write about. With all that’s going on, how could I stop?”

Gwendolyn Brooks

 

“Of course I’m a black writer…. I’m not just a black writer, but categories like black writer, woman writer and Latin American writer aren’t marginal anymore. We have to acknowledge that the thing we call “literature” is more pluralistic now, just as society ought to be. The melting pot never worked. We ought to be able to accept on equal terms everybody from the Hassidim to Walter Lippmann, from the Rastafarians to Ralph Bunche.”

Toni Morrison

 

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. It is a seeking that he who wishes may know the cosmic secrets of the world and they that dwell therein.”

Zora Neale Hurston

 

“Some critics will write ‘Maya Angelou is a natural writer’ – which is right after being a natural heart surgeon.”

Maya Angelou

 

“The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.”

Toni Morrison

 

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Maya Angelou

 

“We write because we believe the human spirit cannot be tamed and should not be trained.”

Nikki Giovanni

 

“What I’m fighting for now in my work… for an expression relevant to all manner of blacks, poems I could take into a tavern, into the street, into the halls of a housing project.”

Gwendolyn Brooks
This entry was posted in: For Writers

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I am an activist, author, and teaching artist passionate about anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-imperialist education. I started Pens Up Press because I love to read and write and because I believe in the power of our people to liberate ourselves and each other through learning and grassroots activism. In conjunction with Pens Up Press, I manage the Uproar Poetry Group facilitating free creative writing workshops and supporting free open mic events. I live in Harlem with my dear friend Marcus Potts, my fiancee Xi'an Glynn, and my black cat Squeaky.

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