10 Great Quotes About Poetry and Writing by Naomi Shahib Nye

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“A poem is a cup of words open to the sky and wind in a bucket.”

“Read poems both like and unlike the ones you might write. Read widely, voraciously, open-heartedly. Read work by “others”—however you might define them. If you are a young poet, read work by older poets and vice versa. If you are urban, read poems by rural writers. Obviously, read poems by writers of other ethnicities, religions, etc.”

“The poem is not a closed experience, it remains open. It invites you in, hopefully.”

“For me, the writing process is something related to like exercising your body, taking a walk, stretching. It’s better if you do it on a regular basis. You won’t be as stiff, so all my life I’ve tried to write every day. It doesn’t have to be great. Doesn’t have to be even good. Just keep that pen rolling. Write down you know, whether you’re writing a journal of what’s been happening during the day or signs you saw that day or conversations you overhead.”

“Poetry [is] more necessary than ever as a fire to light our tongues.”

“More of childhood is poetry than adulthood will ever be. For children, the land of metaphor is still very close, very rich and available. Too much analysis of the dry kind ostracized generations of readers. No one listens to a jazz concert and goes out into the parking lot to analyze it. We bask. More basking in poetry has always been needed.”

“The act of writing itself often leads us into thinking in a larger, more universal way, after focusing on or breathing with, beginning with, something grounded and close. A poem “blurs” into that larger space of being on its own, if it is lucky. There is often a little “click” or “shiver” in a poet’s mind, I think, when an experience or a perception begins opening up into something larger – one can feel this during the act of writing, sometimes, or sometimes just as thoughts and images are gathering in the mind. Sometimes there is an impulse of something large first but we have no idea what it is until we begin writing through the scene itself, the details at hand.”

“If a teacher told me to revise, I thought that meant my writing was a broken-down car that needed to go to the repair shop. I felt insulted. I didn’t realize the teacher was saying, ‘Make it shine. It’s worth it.’ Now I see revision as a beautiful word of hope. It’s a new vision of something. It means you don’t have to be perfect the first time. What a relief!”

“I do think that all of us think in poems.”

“Anyone who says, “Here’s my address, write me a poem,” deserves something in reply. So I’ll tell you a secret instead: poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes, they are sleeping. They are the shadows drifting across our ceilings the moment before we wake up. What we have to do is live in a way that lets us find them.”

— Naomi Shahib Nye

9 thoughts on “10 Great Quotes About Poetry and Writing by Naomi Shahib Nye

      1. Her perspective of ordinary events, places, and people is so unique in her combination of different cultures. I believe she is in line for the Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement by the National Book Critics Circle and a new poetry collection in Feb.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I totally agree! And thank you for the fantastic news, Brad! I didn’t know about the lifetime achievement award of=r her new book. I just found out that she was appointed as the the Young Person’s Poet Laureate last year, a position I think is perfect for her.

        Liked by 1 person

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