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Louise Glück

Former Poet Laureate of the United States

Louise Glück: Sometimes there'll be lines in my head for two years before I know how to use them. I don't know in what context what I hear can be liberated. So initially, they seem a great gift, because you have these two beautiful lines. And then they become a torment, because you have these two beautiful lines that aren't in themselves a poem, and you have no idea what kind of house to build for them, around them. There have been periods in my life when my first thought in the morning has been that piece of language, my last thought at night the piece of language. But it's like a whip. It's a punishment, because I can't do it. And then in each of those cases, ultimately I could write a poem that made a world. And every so often -- after I was 50 I started writing books very rapidly. This happened in maybe four or five books. The Wild Iris was written -- except for about five poems -- it was written in six weeks, eight weeks. Vita Nova the same. The Seven Ages was written in something like six weeks. Just like four or five poems a day. And then the day before you start you're a complete blank, and then all of a sudden six weeks later you have a book. And then you're very tired and you get sick. And then some of the other -- Village Life was different. Averno was written in two halves, the first kind of slow, dogged, hopeless. Then a hiatus of about two years, and then two years later the second half. Very fast. And then Village Life was sort of ideal. It was a steady writing for about a year, and a sense of great curiosity and contentment and richness, without any of the tempestuousness of that very rapid, "you give up sleep" thing. I know -- I know it sounds like something that should be medicated, but it doesn't feel like mania to me. It's very specific to this one event. Anyway, it's certainly not going on now.
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Louise Glück

Former Poet Laureate of the United States

Louise Glück: I think what I feel is trust in my editorial capabilities. I know that if I get something on the page, I can do something with it. I'll know what to do. But yeah, I do. My bedtime story when I was very, very little, my father used to tell my sister and me the story of St. Joan, without the burning. And you know, she heard voices and I was very accustomed to the idea that one heard voices. I hear language. It's not like an angel speaking to me, but language comes, and I don't know how to control it, but I'm very grateful when it happens. I've never felt that I've been wrong about one of those little gifts. But then, a lot of what I do is not -- it doesn't come about that way. It's a sort of "one poem leads to the next" in unexpected ways. But when some switch has been flipped and you're in the "on" mode, and then you're off. And every time it's off, you feel as though this is the true silence. This is the end of all speech. It's a horrible feeling, and it still dogs me. I've been talking a long time right now, for example.
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Whoopi Goldberg

Actress and Activist

Whoopi Goldberg: Come on! Come on! You know, be an actor because you love to act. Don't be an actor because you think you're going to get famous, because that's luck. But if it's what you want to do with your whole heart and soul, come on. Go everywhere, learn everything. Learn Shakespeare. Shakespeare is great fun. Don't be thrown by the words. The words are the same words that we use with a little different implementation. Write things for yourself. Come on, it's a great way to spend time. It's a great way to learn history. It's a great way to learn all kinds of things. But only come if you're coming to play. If you're not coming to play, you should get another gig to supplement your acting.
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Daniel Goldin

Space Exploration

Daniel Goldin: My father has had an incredible -- I said "had." He died recently. He was a major force in my life. He had an incredible drive for me because he didn't have the success in his life that he had dreamed of, and he exposed me to science. But, most of all he exposed me to the stars. He took me to the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History. I could see the tapes in my mind playing in color the day I went to the Hayden Planetarium, and they turned on that star machine and I looked up and they showed our own galaxy. It was breathtaking, and I remember this at seven years old. And I remember talking to my father and I was saying, "How can we go there? I want to go there."
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Daniel Goldin

Space Exploration

I think it's very dangerous for young people to set unrealistic goals because then you have an excuse for failure and you can say, "It's okay that I live in mediocrity because I didn't achieve my goal." But, if you set a goal that's unachievable, you're leading yourself down a very bad direction. Very, very bad. So success must be defined. A dream must be laid down. A determination and inner strength must be there. And, in my case, making a contribution -- taking America to the moon, to Mars and the stars, even as one small piece -- is my definition of success. And I believe I could do that. I know I could do that.
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