“For a jolt of creative energy I often leave my small apartment in Harlem and ride the subway to an area of New York City I have not previously visited. Some days I find a spot to take in an expansive vista—a long canyon of buildings in Midtown Manhattan, the wide East River running toward one of the ancient bridges. In Brooklyn, I might study a piece of outdoor art or the weathered front of a two-story clapboard house. Recently in Queens, I took in the spicy air outside a row of restaurants, and in the Bronx near a wide boulevard, I listened for several minutes to the muffled drone of snarled traffic. On a windy day in the Financial District, I admired the intricate facade of a tall gothic building, but then focused on a small rectangle of inlaid terra-cotta. I noticed how the light struck the coarse surface of a small childlike figure, and the movement suggested in the surrounding florals.
Sometimes I make no attempt to analyze the things I see. If thoughts come to me that is fine. If they do not, that is fine too. Experiences like these might be relived on the subway ride home or remain hidden for months, suddenly remembered as a gift to enliven a story or essay, or simply to bring a moment of inspiration.”
—Jeffrey Colvin, author of Africaville (Amistad, 2019)