I learned that life will go through changes - up and down and up again. It's what life does.

Ben Okri

Ben Okri

Profession: Poet
Nationality: Nigerian

Some suggestions for you :

But to hear Mozart in a bombed city: how much more beautiful it sounds, as if it were composed to somehow soothe the ruins, to promise a wiser future rising from the rubble.

I lived rough, by my wits, was homeless, lived on the streets, lived on friends' floors, was happy, was miserable.

I love your loneliness. It is brave. It makes the universe want to protect you.

The dead shook off their rust of living and seized up steel. Their lips quivered with the defiance of innocents, with manipulations of politicians and their interchangeable dreams, and with the insanity of thugs who don't even know for which parties they commit their atrocities.

The worst time was 1983. Love and life and everything went wrong. I reached absolute rock bottom. I saw the Minotaur at the bottom of the abyss. I learnt of the harshness of the world and its impartiality to human failure.

Don't read what everyone else is reading. Check them out later, cautiously.

The school-children were in their uniforms. A cock crowed repeatedly. Mum got her tray together. I was ready for school. Mum went down the street, swaying, moving a little sleepily, with one more burden added to her life. She was merely a detail in the poverty of our area.

At the heart of 'The Famished Road' is a philosophical conundrum - for me, an essential one: what is reality? Everybody's reality is subjective; it's conditioned by upbringing, ideas, temperament, religion, what's happened to you.

One human life is deeper than the ocean. Strange fishes and sea-monsters and mighty plants live in the rock-bed of our spirits. The whole of human history is an undiscovered continent deep in our souls. There are dolphins, plants that dream, magic birds inside us. The sky is inside us. The earth is in us.

I'm conscious of a series of circles working its way through my life. And at this particular moment I have come round to the beginning of my writing cycle. It begins with poetry. There's hardly a day that goes past on which I don't write poetry.

This earth that we live on is full of stories in the same way that, for a fish, the ocean is full of ocean. Some people say when we are born we're born into stories. I say we're also born from stories.

It is more difficult to love than to die. It is not death that human beings are most afraid of, it is love. The heart is bigger than a mountain. One human life is deeper than the ocean. Strange fishes and sea-monsters and mightly plants live in the rock-bed of our spirits. The whole of human history is an undiscovered continent deep in our souls.

Artists and writers have to deal with the element that makes the real real and the dream real while you are dreaming it. That's where stories and poems get their power.

The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.