Darkness and Light: Private Writing as Art contains excerpts from the journals, diaries, and notebooks of 14 sensitive and reflective women and men, as well as two essays that address questions surrounding journal writing and the journal-as-art. The pieces in the collection offer a variety of writing styles, subjects, and moods.
Meditations on a bus, on a lake; the personal meaning of literature or a painting; the painful and dramatic dissolution of a relationship; philosophical isolation from others; a poetic buoyancy in the face of the everyday; a distilled personal wisdom; the humor and sadness of the minutely mundane; the struggle to convey in dance an intimate trauma; a spiritual reevaluation spurred by involvement in an alien culture; a father and child's visit to a mother's grave… These are some of the themes filling these pages from contemporary journals, diaries, and notebooks.
The purpose of this collection is to honor the journal/diary/notebook as a valid literary genre. When searching for contributors, the editors sought ‘unknowns’ as well as published writers who had never before had the opportunity to release their journal and diary fragments. The editors feel that journals and diaries can encompass more than the typically historical or therapeutic, and have faith that they are not alone in viewing the journal as an open testament to the full and mysterious variety of human life and thought.
“Those interested in the diary form will find much to charm them and much that is unexpected in this collection. It is worth returning to again and again.” more...
—Ann Chandonnet, Juneau Empire
“What an amazing experience to read about journal writing in a way that does not trivialize or reduce the process or result.... I was deeply moved by Greenwood's essay; here was someone mirroring my experience of journal writing. I have spoken about that experience quite a bit, but I've never written about it myself or read it expressed so eloquently and with so much depth. I was impressed by the Introduction; here were people asking meaningful questions, reaching toward the profound aspects of this kind of writing, and not reducing it to ‘self-help’ or ‘therapy’ writing.”
—Nancy Linnon, writer, editor, and creative writing teacher
“I particularly like Kate Gale's entries. The diary works brilliantly either tongue-in-cheek or as a factual record. But then don't many of us live quite large parts of our lives tongue-in-cheek? We don't really believe we are living as we are, but it is necessary to conform, at least to some extent.... Kate Gale may therefore, paradoxically, be the most clear sighted of all the diarists in the book.”
—Christopher Handley, English Bookseller specializing in printed diaries
“In Darkness and Light, the reader is taken through these writers' lives from day to day or year to year. Personal and philosophical, is the purpose to make art of life or to make life into art?” more...
“With a few notable exceptions such as Rousseau, Anais Nin and Sylvia Plath, journal writing has been considered as somehow outside the spirit of art, a self-involved enterprise whose parameters are more self-conserving than creative.
“Olivia Dresher and Victor Munoz, editors of this excellent anthology, beg to differ. ‘The artistic possibilities of the journal have not been fully explored,’ they write in their lively introduction. ‘Most published anthologies of journal or diary writing have attempted to offer a glimpse of an era or cultural milieu, or approached the journal as a vehicle for personal awareness and growth, or delved into the “intimate” lives of the famous. To these three ways of seeing private writing—historical, therapeutic and voyeuristic—we would like to add a fourth: aesthetic.’
“In pursuing this goal, Dresher and Munoz eschewed a compilation of dribs and drabs—short selections from a multitude of journal writers—in favor of sizable groupings from 14 talented individuals. Each writer is sui generis, unlike writers in other anthologies, and totally original in scope and approach.” more...
—Stanley Nelson, author of ten books of poetry and recipient of the Thomas Wolfe Poetry Award