10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing By Bruce Smith

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“When the language [of a poem] works to seduce and . . . move us, when it works its blues on us, bounces us and trembles us, makes us swerve from our upright and rational propositions . . . we are thinking and listening at the same time or really listening and not thinking, like a good song does.”

“Write like a lover. Write like you’re leaving yourself for another.”

“Isn’t a book of poems with its thin spine and blank spaces a blunt cutting edge toward what’s left undone and an echo or call or wish to sound the Blank with a few notes? It’s a pathetic furthering through the medium of words and figures, rhythms, and honks and slurs.”

“In jail, poetry was to become something else: a spoon with which to tunnel through the wall. Contrary to what you might expect poetry and books had an impact in the joint.”

“Does anyone who calls themselves a poet have more than a series of strikes and counterstrikes, a succession of vowels and consonants, air obstructed or not, grooves and breaks, and visitations and melancholy fits and carpal tunnel and history and suffering and a poem followed by the next poem sewn into fascicles and put in a box under the bed.“

“Inspiration is for suckers. Talk about process impedes the process. Work the work.”

“When a poem would neither praise nor blame, it ends up praising; its figural language heightens any subject and gives it, in capable hands, a nobility.”

“If a central dilemma of poetry is a compulsion to understand the world versus a desire to see beyond the details, to which side do you belong? ”

“The acoustic qualities of poetry supply a beat, a pulse and a value not found in the semantic values of the words. My relationship to sounds is like my relationship to my kid making noise in the other room; I wish she’d be quiet, but I love her, and I can’t help listening to and being moved by the sounds.”

“Poetry generally is a verbal configuration of personality.”

—Bruce Smith

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