Happy Birthday, Stephen Fry, born 24 August 1957
Stephen Fry: On Reading & Writing
Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.
Savour every word and every line. Reading verse can be like eating chocolate – so much more pleasurable when you allow it slowly to melt inside of you, so much less rewarding when you snap off big chunks and bolt them whole, all but untasted. In our age, one of the glories of poetry is that it remains an art that demonstrates the virtues and pleasures of taking your time. You can never read a poem too slowly, but you can certainly read one too fast.
Read out loud
Among the pleasures of poetry is the sheer physical, sensual, textural, tactile pleasure of feeling the words on your lips, tongue, teeth and vocal chords.
Don’t look for meaning
Never worry about ‘meaning’ when you are reading poems. A relationship with the whole art of poetry itself takes time. Allow meaning to emerge at its own pace.
On becoming a creative person
It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.
On nouns and verbs
We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I’m going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.
Be ready to write
Buy a notebook, exercise book or jotter pad and lots of pencils. Take it with you everywhere. When you are stuck in an airport, travelling by train, just doodle with words. Write, don’t type. As you learn new techniques and methods for producing lines of verse, practise them all the time.
Stephen Fry is a British actor, author, playwright, poet, television presenter, poet, and film director. He is the bestselling author of four novels as well as several works of non-fiction. His works include the titles More Fool Me: A Memoir and The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within.
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