The Nigerian poet and novelist, author of 'The Famished Road' and 'Astonishing the Gods' is onto something, he really is.

The Nigerian poet and novelist, author of ‘The Famished Road’ and ‘Astonishing the Gods’, is onto something, he really is.  His collection of essays, ‘A Way of Being Free’ (1997), is a book I turn to time and time again.

‘True artists are wiser than we think.’

‘Creativity, it would appear, should be approached in the spirit of play, of foreplay, of dalliance, doodling, messing around – and then, bit by bit, you somehow get deeper into the matter.’

‘There is a touch of blessedness in the art of writing.  It is sometimes interesting, while writing, to be occupied by the mood you want to render and to let the mood find the words.  This assumes oneness between you and your material, a quality of grace.’

‘The best kinds of books have a delightful mystery about them.’

‘Creativity should always be a form of prayer.’

‘The mystery of storytelling is the miracle of a single living seed which can populate whole acres of human minds.’

‘It should be clear by now that it is you, great readers of the world, who are at the root of the storyteller’s complex joy.’

‘Storytellers ought not to be too tame.  They ought to be wild creatures who function adequately in society.  They are best in disguise.  If they lose all their wildness, they cannot give us the truest joys.’

‘When we die in life, it’s much easier to watch others dying too; it’s much easier to murder the dreams of others, to poison the stream of their lives, to poison their innocence, their love.  When we are dead in life we don’t notice when little miracles die around us before our deadened gaze.’

‘The enemies of poets are those who have no genuine religious thinking.  To be truly religious does not require an institution, it requires terror, faith, compassion, imagination, and a belief in more than three dimensions.  It also requires love.  Religion touches us at the place where imagination blends into the divine.  Poetry touches us where religion is inseparable from the wholly human.  In heaven there could be no poetry.  The same is true of hell.  It is only on a sphere where heaven and hell are mixed into the fabric of the mortal frame that poetry is possible.’

‘There are many ways to die, and not all of them have to do with extinction.’

‘Writers are dangerous when they tell the truth.’

‘Writers are also dangerous when they tell lies.’