10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Joseph Brodsky

“Poetry is rather an approach to things, to life, than it is typographical production.”

“In the business of writing what one accumulates is not expertise but uncertainties. Which is but another name for craft.”

“Poetry is not only the most concise way of conveying the human experience; it also offers the highest possible standards for any linguistic operation.”

“Every individual ought to know at least one poet from cover to cover: if not as a guide through the world, then as a yardstick for the language.”

“Poetry is what is gained in translation.”

“By failing to read or listen to poets, society dooms itself to inferior modes of articulation, those of the politician, the salesman, or the charlatan. In other words, it forfeits its own evolutionary potential. For what distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom is precisely the gift of speech. Poetry is not a form of entertainment and in a certain sense not even a form of art, but it is our anthropological, genetic goal. Our evolutionary, linguistic beacon.”

“A poet is a combination of an instrument and a human being in one person, with the former gradually taking over the latter. The sensation of this takeover is responsible for timbre; the realization of it, for destiny.”

“If a poet has any obligation toward society, it is to write well. Being in the minority, he has no other choice. Failing this duty, he sinks into oblivion. Society, on the other hand, has no obligation toward the poet.”

“In America, a metrical poem is likely to conjure up the idea of the sort of poet who wears ties and lunches at the faculty club. In Russia it suggests the moral force of an art practiced against the greatest personal odds, as a discipline, solitary and intense.”

“Every writing career starts as a personal quest for sainthood, for self-betterment. Sooner or later, and as a rule quite soon, a man discovers that his pen accomplishes a lot more than his soul.”

—Joseph Brodsky

7 thoughts on “10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Joseph Brodsky

  1. “In the business of writing what one accumulates is not expertise but uncertainties. Which is but another name for craft.”
    I like this quote! It is true the poet often writes from the perspective of uncertainty!

    Liked by 2 people

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