“Writing is really difficult. It taxes every part of you. It’s a lifelong practice, not a month-long or a year-long.”
“My revision process may be a bit unusual, in that I usually revise within a very brief window of opportunity. I have written poems for so long that I write them with (at least) two minds—the present tense improvisor, and the revisor, with a longer view. I don’t move on until I get that particular poem, the poem-of-the-moment, right.”
“The sonnet, like poverty, teaches you what you can do without.”
“There are more poets than pigeons these days. I’ve known poets who aged gracefully into silence. I’d like to keep writing as long as I can because it feels good; it’s always been who I am. I don’t know how it will go down, if I’ll write myself into the grave or someday or other find I’m out of words. Maybe I’ll turn into a poem, and writing more will seem redundant.”
“Therapy is therapy. Poetry is poetry. Reading or writing a poem can be a therapeutic experience in the broadest sense of the word, but for me, poems don’t offer relief in the way we might hope therapy does. They can offer wisdom, which I think unfolds through study and time, and wisdom is often complicating, not a panacea. There are ideas in poems that I couldn’t begin to untangle when I first read them. Making use of them is a whole other story. It can take years. Maybe the most important poems gestate within us for a lifetime and only arrive on our death beds.”
“There is a risk in poetry circles of appearing to be retro-confessional, but I do my best not to worry about such things. My hope is that the telling I did will be emboldening to others. That it will have been of some use.”
“Why do you write? Spend some good time with that question. What does success look like to you? Consider how you can take care of yourself financially and emotionally. That’s important too, and it’s grounding. How you can have as safe a place as possible to live. Focus also on what you can give to others that you wish you’d had yourself.”
“I don’t think doubt is necessarily a bad thing, unless it is incapacitating. In fact, a lot of good poems have arisen out of doubt. No honor or award diminishes the fact that when I sit down to write, I am facing what all writers face, an unmarked page. That having written does not assure that you can write.”
“The poetry landscape is so challenging, in that social media blasts it all in your face 24 hours a day. It’s impossible not to compare yourself to others, and yet that is the least helpful activity imaginable. We’re led to believe that instant success is the expectation, that poems going viral is the test of someone’s potential for a writing life. There is so much temptation to let your work be guided by the capitalist notion of the poem as product — saleable and marketable. Of yourself as product, curated to draw a certain kind of attention and influence. All of this noise is external to the poem itself. I recommend taking the long view. Turn down the noise. Practice experiencing the world in its real vs. virtual form. Live. I really believe that if you are in deep conversation with your own particular history, the history of your people, whoever they are, with your strange, doubt-filled, funny/sad particularities and unheroic fuck-ups, and if you read what you need rather than everything in your face, and if you court periods of silence and solitude, and if you practice, and persist, you will be okay.”
“Poetry is language which arises from experience, though sometimes “experience” is mind, thoughts, imagination.”
Published by Paul Szlosek
Paul Szlosek was born in Southbridge, Massachusetts, but currently resides in the nearby metropolis of Worcester. He was co-founder and host of the long-running Poet’s Parlor poetry reading in Southbridge and Sturbridge, as well as a past recipient of the Jacob Knight Award for Poetry. His poems have appeared in various local publications including the Worcester Review, Worcester Magazine, Sahara, Concrete Wolf, and Diner. He’s probably best known in the Worcester poetry community for his fanatical obsession with obscure poetry forms, and has invented his own including the ziggurat, the streetbeatina, and (most recently) the hodgenelle.
View all posts by Paul Szlosek
6 thoughts on “10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing By Diane Seuss”
A word from the Poet Laureate
of Rock ‘n’ Roll …
“Everyone’s beneath the trees,
feedin’ pigeons on a limb 🕊️
but when Quinn the Eskimo gets here
all the pigeons gonna run to him.”
~ Bob Dylan 😎
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This is one of my favorite series to read. I always leave feeling enriched and motivated to keep the ink flowing. Be well, my friend!
“There are more poets than pigeons these days.”
I wish I’d known her.
Great post Paul, brought to mind this quote: ‘I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think’ – Rumi ❤
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Thank you, A.J.! What a wonderful Rumi quote!
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Interesting quotes and I like Diane’s last quote.