It is the creator of fiction’s point of view; it is the character who interests him. Sometimes he wants to convince the reader that the story he is telling is as interesting as universal history.
Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity, it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.
Writing poetry makes you intensely conscious of how words sound, both aloud and inside the head of the reader. You learn the weight of words and how they sound to the ear.
Easy reading is damn hard writing. But if it’s right, it’s easy. It’s the other way round, too. If it’s slovenly written, then it’s hard to read. It doesn’t give the reader what the careful writer can give the reader.
It’s a fantastic privilege to spend three or four hundred pages with a reader. You have time to go into certain questions that are painful or difficult or complicated. That’s one thing that appeals to me very much about the novel form.
I want the reader to turn the page and keep on turning until the end.
I should like to use another word: ‘audience’ or ‘reader’ or ‘listener’ seems inadequate. I suggest the old word ‘witness,’ which includes the act of seeing and knowing by personal experience, as well as the act of giving evidence.
Mourning Ruby is not a flat landscape: it is more like a box with pictures painted on every face. And each face is also a door which opens, I hope, to take the reader deep into the book.
My focus is on the reader and that the poet’s job is not to inspire himself or herself. The poet’s job is to inspire some future reader.
I’ve still not written as well as I want to. I want to write so that the reader in Des Moines, Iowa, in Kowloon, China, in Cape Town, South Africa, can say, ‘You know, that’s the truth. I wasn’t there, and I wasn’t a six-foot black girl, but that’s the truth.’