Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Right Words at the Write Time

by Christa Allan

I'm not sure when or how I discovered Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. I'm just grateful that I did. His words leave me breathless. Really. I don't know how much of what I read in English has been lost in translation from his having written in Spanish, but perhaps that's for the best. I might not be able to stand after reading his original work.

Some of his poems are politically charged, but those that aren't are infused with sensual imagery and raw vulnerability, all simply and profoundly composed.

So, when I read that the theme is "the right words at the right time" and what those words mean to me as an author, I remembered having copied this snippet below to share with my students. I wanted to share it today because it reminds me, in my writer life, to not walk away hungry when invited to the banquet of words.

The second link is to a brief video, one I also shared in class, about the power of words.

Enjoy the feast.

from "Everything Exists in the Word" by Pablo Neruda (Memoirs)

“You can say anything you want, yes sir, but it’s the words that sing, they soar and they descend ….. I bow to them . . . I cling to them, I run them down, I bite into them . . I love words so much … The ones I wait for greedily … they glitter like colored stones, they leap like silver fish… They are foam, thread, metal, dew … I stalk certain words… They are so beautiful that I want to fit them all into my poem… I catch them in mid-flight, as they buzz past, I trap them, clean them, peel them, I set myself in front of the dish, they have a crystalline texture to me, vibrant, ivory, vegetable, oily, like fruit, like algae, like agates, like olives… And I stir them, I shake them, I drink them, I gulp them down, I mash them, I garnish them …. I leave them in my poem like stalactites, like slivers of polished wood, like coals, like pickings from a shipwreck, gifts from the waves … 

ChangeYour Words, Change Your World

Christa Allan is the author of  Threads of HopeWalking on Broken GlassThe Edge of Grace, and Love Finds You in New Orleans. You can find her at www.christaallan.comFacebook, and Twitter. When she's not obsessing over words, she's weeding her garden in hopes of generating ideas. Christa, a recently retired teacher, and her husband live in New Orleans with their three neurotic cats.


  1. Wow, thank you Christa. This is great. Also a Pablo fan. Words are more than black symbols on white paper. Words are things!

  2. Joyce, oh Joyce. What amazing connections we must have. I wrote in my journal this morning that I hadn't heard from you in too long a time! I should have asked for a few million dollars while I was there. . .

  3. Oh, Christa, I love that!! I'm bookmarking this post because I know that I'll want to come back to that over and over again.

  4. Thanks, Brenda. I'm wondering how to make a poster!

  5. Words....ahhhh. This reader has none at the moment. Inspiring!

    1. It's a pleasure to leave the inspiration up to someone else!. Thanks to Pablo and the video!

  6. Christa, We can always count on you for inspiration at the club! Wonderful post!

  7. Christa, thank you so much for sharing this today!
    I loved this line: "I leave them in my poem like stalactites..." ;)
    I'll have to read more of Pablo Neruda's work. I was intrigued by something of his I heard quoted in the film "Mindwalk" years ago, but I think I should explore further!

    1. Despite the fact that reading Neruda makes my attempt at expression feel like I'm driving a car with the muffler falling out, I truly appreciate the challenge!