Patricia Hampl

Literary Birthday – 12 March – Patricia Hampl

Happy Birthday, Patricia Hampl, born 12 March 1946.


  1. You can’t put much on paper before you betray your secret self, try as you will to keep things civil.
  2. Poetry’s essence is not to show or to tell as we say in fiction, but to reveal.
  3. To speak, to write, without charm is to make utterances without reference to a reality outside oneself. It is an act devoid of the playfulness of art, without the attractive humility of one who knows absolutely that others exist and therefore feels drawn to please them, because to give them an instant of pleasure is to acknowledge their existence.
  4. I don’t write about what I know: I write in order to find out what I know.
  5. I waste my life. I want to. It’s the thing to do with a life. We were wrong about work—it isn’t the best thing, no matter how much you love it. Wasting time is better.
  6. Writing was the soul of everything else… Wanting to be a writer was wanting to be a person.
  7. Looking repeatedly into the past, you do not necessarily become fascinated with your own life, but rather with the phenomenon of memory.
  8. An unreviewed book is a struck bell that gives no resonance. Without reviews, literature would be oddly mute in spite of all those words on all those pages of all those books. Reviewing makes of reading a participant sport, not a spectator sport.
  9. Maybe being oneself is always an acquired taste.
  10. The materials of memoir are humble, fugitive, a cottage knitting industry seeking narrative truth across the crevasse of time as autobiography folds itself into the vast, fluid essay that is history. A single voice singing its aria in a corner of the crowded world.
  11. We only store in memory images of value. To write about one’s life is to live it twice, and the second time is both spiritual and historical.
  12. True memoir is written, like all literature, in an attempt to find not only a self but a world

Patricia Hampl is an American memoirist, writer, and educator. She is the author of The Florist’s DaughterI Could Tell You Stories, and two collections of poetry: Woman before an Aquarium and Resort and Other Poems.

Source for photograph / Credit Alec Soth

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 12th March 2015