10 More Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Thomas Lux


“Poetry exists because there is no other way to say the things that get said in good poems except in poems. There is something about the right combination of metaphor or image connected to the business of being alive that only poems can do. To me, it makes me feel more alive, reading good poetry.”

“Writing is rewriting, writing is revision. Historically, all great works have been labored over.”

“I envy painters… I like the fact that they make one thing, and it’s a single object, and there’s only one, ever. A poem isn’t as valuable an object because a Xerox of the poem is the same as a zillion other Xeroxes. It doesn’t exist as an individual object.”

“I don’t think there’s ever been a time when poetry has been healthier or had a better chance of winning back a fair share of the audience that was essentially lost because poetry was incomprehensible and made people feel stupid, the kind of poetry that most of us grew up on in school, poems that never meant what they said. They were some kind of riddle that you had to decipher, and the point of reading poetry was like taking a test—to decipher the riddle. No wonder a lot of people—several generations of Americans—hated poetry. And that’s beginning to change.”

“There’s a difference between writing poetically and writing poetry.”

“I write some poems about myself but not many. In a sense, all poems are autobiographical—no matter what the subject, they show what the poet feels about the world, what he/she hates, loves, quarrels with, and fears.”

“I do think there is room for humor in poetry. Life includes humor. Why not poetry? And it’s not oxymoronic that humorous poetry can be serious.”

“I don’t particularly believe in inspiration. I believe you need to feel something intensely enough to need to write a poem that might be telling you you need to try to write it.”

“The ideal reader is any reader who gets a little pleasure or, depending on the poem, gets pissed off.”

“A lot of poets don’t read their work well, don’t write their work with the intention of it being read out loud, but they still do readings, for the check, obviously, but nothing is duller than a monotone reading of work that’s essentially incomprehensible—and there’s a lot of that. I would rather have lit matches stuck in my ear.”

—Thomas Lux



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