10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Wislawa Szymborska

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“I prefer the absurdity of writing poems to the absurdity of not writing poems.”

“Poets, if they’re genuine, must keep repeating “I don’t know.” Each poem marks an effort to answer this statement, but as soon as the final period hits the page, the poet begins to hesitate, starts to realize that this particular answer was pure makeshift that’s absolutely inadequate to boot. So the poets keep on trying, and sooner or later the consecutive results of their self-dissatisfaction are clipped together with a giant paperclip by literary historians and called their oeuvre.”

“Each of us has a very rich nature and can look at things objectively, from a distance, and at the same time can have something more personal to say about them. I am trying to look at the world, and at myself, from many different points of view. I think many poets have this duality.”

“All the best have something in common, a regard for reality, an agreement to its primacy over the imagination. Even the richest, most surprising and wild imagination is not as rich, wild and surprising as reality. The task of the poet is to pick singular threads from this dense, colorful fabric.”

“The joy of writing. The power of preserving. Revenge of a mortal hand.”

“In the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone’s existence in this world.”

“I usually write for the individual reader – though I would like to have many such readers. There are some poets who write for people assembled in big rooms, so they can live through something collectively. I prefer my reader to take my poem and have a one-on-one relationship with it.”

“I’m fighting against the bad poet who is prone to using too many words.”

“Poets yearn, of course, to be published, read, and understood, but they do little, if anything, to set themselves above the common herd and the daily grind.”

“Contemporary poets are skeptical and suspicious even, or perhaps especially, about themselves. They publicly confess to being poets only reluctantly, as if they were a little ashamed of it. But in our clamorous times it’s much easier to acknowledge your faults, at least if they’re attractively packaged, than to recognize your own merits, since these are hidden deeper and you never quite believe in them yourself.”

—Wislawa Szymborska

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