Breath Taking: The Art of Silence

‘No iron can pierce the heart with such force as a full stop put just at the right place.’ Isaac Babel

‘Words are part of speech, but there are also necessary pauses. Punctuation expresses them and also tells your reader when to breathe. Think about that for a moment – punctuation lets you control someone else’s breath.’ A.L.Kennedy

Great writers use punctuation not merely for grammatical clarity but to shape their fictional worlds. In literature as in life, however, the power of the pause is something of a neglected art. This workshop explores what we can learn from writers such as Chekhov and Woolf about the value of the well-placed rest in literature and in life.  Where do we find moments of pause in the headlong rush of existence?  When do we take breath?  How are we punctuating our lives?  Where are the full stops, commas and parentheses? What do we discover when we start to pay attention to silence, to the spaces between the words?