10 More Great Quotes About Poetry and Writing by Billy Collins



“Poetry is like standing on the edge of a lake on a moonlit night and the light of the moon is always pointing straight at you.”

“The mind can be trained to relieve itself on paper.”

“While the novelist is banging on his typewriter, the poet is watching a fly in the windowpane.”

“Write the poem only you can write.”

“You come by your style by learning what to leave out. At first you tend to overwrite—embellishment instead of insight. You either continue to write puerile bilge, or you change. In the process of simplifying oneself, one often discovers the thing called voice.”

“The poem is not, as someone put it, deflective of entry. But the real question is, ‘What happens to the reader once he or she gets inside the poem?’ That’s the real question for me, is getting the reader into the poem and then taking the reader somewhere, because I think of poetry as a kind of form of travel writing.”

“I’m speaking to someone I’m trying to get to fall in love with me. I’m trying to speak intimately to one person. That should be clear. I’m not speaking to an audience. I’m not writing for the podium. I’m just writing, trying to write in a fairly quiet tone to one other reader who is by herself, or himself, and I’m trying to interrupt some silence in their life, which is utterance.”

“I find it strange that – at least in my take on it – the people who are the most alarmed about the dire times we live in are the ones who seem to be humorless, in their taste for poetry anyway. Humor is just an ingredient. It’s always been in poetry. It kind of dropped out of poetry I think during the 19th and up to the mid-twentieth century. But it’s found its way back. And it’s simply an ingredient.”

“Poems are not easy to start, and they’re not easy to finish. There’s a great pleasure in – I wouldn’t say ease, but maybe kind of a fascinated ease that accompanies the actual writing of the poem. I find it very difficult to get started.”

“The trouble with poetry is that it encourages the writing of more poetry.”

-Billy Collins

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