10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Mary Ruefle


“A poem is a neutrino – mainly nothing – it has no mass and can pass through the earth undetected.”

“If you have any idea for a poem, an exact grid of intent, you are on the wrong path, a dead-end alley, at the top of a cliff you haven’t even climbed. This is a lesson that can only be learned by trial and error.”

“A poem is a finished work of the mind, it is not the work of a finished mind.”

“Now I will give you a piece of advice. I will tell you something that I absolutely believe you should do, and if you do not do it you will never be a writer. It is a certain truth. When your pencil is dull, sharpen it. And when your pencil is sharp, use it until it is dull again.”

“The origins of poetry are clearly rooted in obscurity, in secretiveness, in incantation, in spells that must at once invoke and protect, tell the secret and keep it.”

“I am convinced that the first lyric poem was written at night, and that the moon was witness to the event and that the event was witness to the moon. For me, the moon has always been the very embodiment of lyric poetry.”

“In life, the number of beginnings is exactly equal to the number of endings … In poetry, the number of beginnings so far exceeds the number of endings that we cannot even conceive of it.”

“I’m lucky enough to occasionally be able to do something I love – write poems – and unlucky enough that what I love confuses and overwhelms me.”

“Words have a love for each other, a desire that culminates in poetry.”

“Although all poets aspire to be birds, no bird aspires to be a poet.”

–Mary Ruefle

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