10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Philip Larkin

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“It is fatal to decide, intellectually, what good poetry is because you are then in honour bound to try to write it, instead of the poems that only you can write.”

“Poetry should begin with emotion in the poet, and end with the same emotion in the reader. The poem is simply the instrument of transference.

“I never think of poetry or the poetry scene, only separate poems written by individuals. The poetic impulse is distinct from ideas about things or feelings about things, though it may use these. It’s more like a desire to separate a piece of one’s experience & set it up on its own, an isolated object never to trouble you again, at least not for a bit. In the absence of this impulse nothing stirs.”

“Novels are about other people and poems are about yourself.”

“As a guiding principle I believe that every poem must be its own sole freshly created universe, and therefore have no belief n ‘tradition’ or a common myth-kitty or casual allusions in poems to other poems or poets, which last I find unpleasantly like the talk of literary understrappers letting you see they know the right people.”

“I think a young poet, or an old poet, for that matter, should try to produce something that pleases himself personally, not only when he’s written it but a couple of weeks later. Then he should see if it pleases anyone else, by sending it to the kind of magazine he likes reading.”

“If you tell a novelist, ‘Life’s not like that’, he has to do something about it. The poet simply replies, ‘No, but I am.”

“I think we got much better poetry when it was all regarded as sinful or subversive, and you had to hide it under the cushion when somebody came in.”

“Poetry is an affair of sanity, of seeing things as they are.”

“When I get sent manuscripts from aspiring poets, I do one of two things: if there is no stamped self-addressed envelope, I throw it into the bin.-If there is, I write and tell them to f**k off.”

— Philip Larkin 

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