borrowed words.

August 12, 2019
gomphrena | reading my tea leaves

No! This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.”

From Toni Morrison’s 2015 essay in The Nation titled, “No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear.” I shared this essay here when it was first published and I’ve returned to it over and over again in the past four years in moments when I’ve needed comfort, or encouragement, or a reminder to carry on. Sharing it again now as a tribute to the life and work of Toni Morrison and with hopes that the healing can continue.

PS. For a list of beautiful essays about Toni Morrison written by Black women, head to Hashtag Feminism.

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  • Reply Tami August 12, 2019 at 2:22 pm


  • Reply Ann August 12, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Thank you.
    The time difference between NY and Denmark means I am reading this just before going to bed. Tomorrow my new students start school.;15-year-old kids ready and excited an so, so nervous. Ready to learn, albeit not always that open to it. It’ll come.
    I am a teacher in arts, design and English and this pierce hit home just at the right time. This is what the humanities are for; finding space to understand, create and fight. Be courageous.
    Thank you for sharing her words. I will share it with my students.

  • Reply Kate August 14, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    ‘Our debates, for the most part, are examples unworthy of a playground: name-calling, verbal slaps, gossip, giggles, all while the swings and slides of governance remain empty.’ Sadly still so relevant.

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