Be careful of words,
even the miraculous ones.
For the miraculous we do our best,
sometimes they swarm like insects
and leave not a sting but a kiss.
They can be as good as fingers.
They can be as trusty as the rock
you stick your bottom on.
But they can be both daisies and bruises.
Yet I am in love with words.
They are doves falling out of the ceiling.
They are six holy oranges sitting in my lap.
They are the trees, the legs of summer,
and the sun, its passionate face.
Yet often they fail me.
I have so much I want to say,
so many stories, images, proverbs, etc.
But the words aren't good enough,
the wrong ones kiss me.
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
but with the wings of a wren.
But I try to take care
and be gentle to them. Words and eggs must be handled with care.
Once broken they are impossible
things to repair.
- Anne Sexton (The Complete Poems)
"I wanted to crawl in between those black lines of print the way you crawl through a fence and go to sleep under that beautiful big green fig-tree."
- Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar)
"She entered the story knowing she would emerge from it feeling she had been immersed in the lives of others, in plots that stretched back twenty years, her body full of sentences and moments, as if awaking from sleep with a heaviness caused by unremembered dreams."
- Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient)
"In the end, it is my belief, words are the only things that can construct a world that makes sense."
- Kate Atkinson (Behind the Scenes at the Museum)
The images here are by Ellen Bell, an artist and writer based in Wales.
"I work directly with books, texts and paper ephemera to create drawings, installations and sculptures that pose questions rather than deliver answers about how we communicate within our familial and intimate relationships," she says. "The physicality of the books, the printed surface of the page and the design of the texts play an important role in the making of my work, as does the serendipity involved in the ‘finding’ of them – the musty smell, the grainy texture of the paper, the inconsistent heaviness of some of the type and the dated graphics of the book covers all play their part in seducing me into working with them."