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Paule Marshall

  • The words were living things to her. She sensed them bestriding the air and charging the room with strong colors.

  • ... sometimes a person has to go back, really back — to have a sense, an understanding of all that's gone to make them — before they can go forward.

  • A person can run for years but sooner or later he has to take a stand in the place which, for better or worse, he calls home, do what he can to change things there.

  • I'll have to, as you say, take a stand, do something toward shaking up that system. ... Despair ... is too easy an out.

  • We live surrounded by white images, and white in this world is synonymous with the good, light, beauty, success, so that, despite ourselves sometimes, we run after that whiteness and deny our darkness, which has been made into the symbol of all that is evil and inferior.

    • Paule Marshall,
    • title story, Reena ()
  • ... I question whether I want to be integrated into America as it stands now, with its complacency and materialism, its soullessness ...

    • Paule Marshall,
    • title story, Reena ()
  • But sometimes it's necessary to go back before you can go forward, really forward.

    • Paule Marshall,
    • "Merle," Reena ()
  • ... the china bowl which held her sanity and trust fell from its shelf in her mind and broke, and another reason for his lateness began to take shape in her thoughts with the same slow and inevitable accretion of detail as the child in her womb.

  • There was no way for me to understand it at the time, but the talk that filled the kitchen those afternoons was highly functional. It served as therapy, the cheapest kind available to my mother and her friends. ... But more than therapy, that freewheeling, wide-ranging, exuberant talk functioned as an outlet for the tremendous creative energy they possessed. They were women in whom the need for self-expression was strong, and since language was the only vehicle readily available to them they made of it an art form that — in keeping with the African tradition in which art and life are one — was an integral part of their lives.

    • Paule Marshall,
    • "The Making of a Writer: From the Poets in the Kitchen," in The New York Times Book Review ()
  • It's a terrible thing to know that you gon be poor all yuh life, no matter how hard you work. You does stop trying after a time. People does see you so and call you lazy. But it ain laziness. It just that you does give up. You does kind of die inside.

Paule Marshall, U.S. writer, educator

(1929)