10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Richard Hugo

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“Don’t write love poems when you’re in love. Write them when you’re not in love.”

“To write a poem you must have a streak of arrogance– not in real life I hope. In real life try to be nice. It will save you a hell of a lot of trouble and give you more time to write.”

“Lucky accidents seldom happen to writers who don’t work. You will find that you may rewrite and rewrite a poem and it never seems quite right. Then a much better poem may come rather fast and you wonder why you bothered with all that work on the earlier poem. Actually, the hard work you do on one poem is put in on all poems. The hard work on the first poem is responsible for the sudden ease of the second. If you just sit around waiting for the easy ones, nothing will come. Get to work.”

“Assuming you can write clear English sentences, give up all worry about communication. If you want to communicate, use the telephone. “

“Never write a poem about anything that ought to have a poem written about it.”

“Don’t write with a pen. Ink tends to give the impression the words shouldn’t be changed.”

“A poet is seldom hard up for advice. The worst part of it all is that sometimes the advice is coming from other poets, and they ought to know better.”

“Scholars look for final truths they will never find. Creative writers concern themselves with possibilities that are always there to the receptive.”

“Say nothing and just make music and you’ll find plenty to say.”

“I think it’s better if you write poems that look like you.”

— Richard Hugo

 

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10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Mary Ruefle

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“A poem is a neutrino – mainly nothing – it has no mass and can pass through the earth undetected.”

“If you have any idea for a poem, an exact grid of intent, you are on the wrong path, a dead-end alley, at the top of a cliff you haven’t even climbed. This is a lesson that can only be learned by trial and error.”

“A poem is a finished work of the mind, it is not the work of a finished mind.”

“Now I will give you a piece of advice. I will tell you something that I absolutely believe you should do, and if you do not do it you will never be a writer. It is a certain truth. When your pencil is dull, sharpen it. And when your pencil is sharp, use it until it is dull again.”

“The origins of poetry are clearly rooted in obscurity, in secretiveness, in incantation, in spells that must at once invoke and protect, tell the secret and keep it.”

“I am convinced that the first lyric poem was written at night, and that the moon was witness to the event and that the event was witness to the moon. For me, the moon has always been the very embodiment of lyric poetry.”

“In life, the number of beginnings is exactly equal to the number of endings … In poetry, the number of beginnings so far exceeds the number of endings that we cannot even conceive of it.”

“I’m lucky enough to occasionally be able to do something I love – write poems – and unlucky enough that what I love confuses and overwhelms me.”

“Words have a love for each other, a desire that culminates in poetry.”

“Although all poets aspire to be birds, no bird aspires to be a poet.”

–Mary Ruefle

Of Box Fans & Kings, and Other Things (Solutions to My Haiku Riddles)

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At the end of my last post, I promised to provide solutions to the haiku riddles I have written, but I decided it might be an even better idea to go beyond that and give long-winded extensive explanations for each one, pointing out each clue or pun so you might glimpse the process that went into conceiving and writing them.

1.

So square, daddy-o,
but, man, if you get turned on,
it can be so cool!

I thought this might have been too obvious: it is either a box fan or an air conditioner. When I was trying to come up with a few new examples of haiku riddles, I looked around the room for something to write about, and immediately spied a recently purchased box fan. The first step was to make a list of some of the object’s qualities in my head: it is square shaped, it’s electric, you turn it on, it cools you down, etc. The words  “square” and “cool” made me think of 1950’s beatnik slang, and then basically everything else fell in place, leaving me to just convert my concept into the 5-7-5 syllable format.

2.

End of the line,
yet start of eternity?
Answer this with ease.

Okay, I admit this is not original at all, it is based on an old chestnut I first heard in grade school. The subject of this haiku riddle is the letter e which appears at the end of the word “line” and at the beginning of “eternity”. The last line is simply an atrocious pun on the word “ease” (e’s, get it?).

3.

It’s the single thing
that sounds just like victory,
but what can it be?

The answer is “one”, a single thing that is pronounced the same as the word “won” (and if someone has “won”, they have achieved a victory). Interestingly, I tried testing all my haiku riddles on my girlfriend, and this is the only one that she guessed correctly.

4.

A royal figure
you’ll find (at present) at end
of certain actions.

The royal figure is a “king” which appears in the present tense at the end of certain actions such as “walking”, “talking” , ” joking”, “smoking”, “licking”, and “kicking”.

5.

Five columns bowing
becomes one boulder flying
again and again.

Of all the haiku riddles I posted, this is the one that is truly the most poetic, the whole thing primarily an extended metaphor for a fist that is either knocking at a door, or (for those who prefer violence) slugging someone. The five columns bowing describe the appearance of the five fingers of the human hand curling into a fist (which is somewhat in the shape of a boulder), while the flying again and again represents the repeated actions of either knocking or punching. This was one of the very first haiku riddles I ever created (unfortunately, I have forgotten all the others I wrote at the same time) when I first conceived of the concept to use with children in poetry presentations at local elementary schools.

So I hope these explanations may prove to be a helpful guide for you, if you do wish to try writing a haiku riddle yourself. I admit the haiku riddle might not be for everyone. I, myself, really had a blast creating them, but then again, I’ve always been fascinated with riddles and brain teasers of all sorts since I was a wee tyke. I like to leave you with one more haiku riddle based on a brain teaser I devised years ago that was inspired by those analogies one would find as a student in the verbal portion of the S.A.T.s and other such tests (don’t worry! I won’t waste your time by writing another whole new post on its solution, I’ll just leave the answer in the comments in a couple of days):

Alabama’s to
where as Minnesota is
to New Mexico?

 

Invented Forms – The Haiku Riddle

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Perhaps one of the easiest ways to create a new poetic form is simply to combine or mash up two pre-existing ones. For example, one could write an acrostic sestina, or take certain aspects of the limerick and the clerihew (which already share many similarities), and come up with the limericlerihew. Back when I was doing presentations on poetry at local elementary schools, I conceived of the haiku riddle, figuring most kids adore riddles, and it might be a good way to introduce them to the haiku format of three lines consisting of 17 syllables which we are all familiar with. Technically, most haiku riddles wouldn’t actually qualify as haikus, since the seasonal or nature element is not required to write one. But like the haiku, it is written in 3 lines or phrases with 5 syllables in the first, 7 in the second, and 5 once again in the last. Because the poem is also meant to serve as a riddle, its subject matter (which can be all most anything), is purposely enigmatic and  intentionally concealed, leaving the reader to decipher what it is all about from clues and puns woven through out the lines.

Here are 5 haiku riddles that I wrote for you to contemplate. Like haikus, haiku riddles don’t usually have titles, so instead (for identification purposes) I have numbered them:

1.

So square, daddy-o,
but, man, if you get turned on,
it can be so cool!

2.

End of the line,
yet start of eternity?
Answer this with ease.

3.

It’s the single thing
that sounds just like victory,
but what can it be?

4.

A royal figure
you’ll find (at present) at end
of certain actions.

5.

Five columns bowing
becomes one boulder flying
again and again.

So what do you think of the form? And were you able to solve all my haiku riddles? I will reveal their solutions in my next post, but until then, feel free to leave what you believe are the answers or even your very own haiku riddles to stump me in a comment. Thanks so much for reading!

10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Donald Hall

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“Mere literary talent is common; what is rare is endurance, the continuing desire to work hard at writing.”

“Words seem like drops of water in a stream that has its own wholeness and its own motion.”

“I don’t know where a poem comes from until after I’ve lived with it a long time. I’ve a notion that a poem comes from absolutely everything that every happened to you.”

“The form of free verse is as binding and as liberating as the form of a rondeau.”

‘To desire to write poems that endure-we undertake such a goal certain of two things: that in all likelihood we will fail, and if we succeed we will never know it.”

“Today when I begin writing I’m aware: something that I don’t understand drives this engine.”

“If the poet wants to be a poet, the poet must force the poet to revise. If the poet doesn’t wish to revise, let the poet abandon poetry and take up stamp-collecting or real estate.”

“Virtually every beginning poet hurts himself by an addiction to adjectives. Verbs are by far the most important things for poems-especially wonderful tough monosyllables like “gasp” and “cry.” Nouns are the next most important. Adjectives tend to be useless.”

“If our goal is to write poetry, the only way we are likely to be any good is to try to be as great as the best.”

“Poetry is what I’ve done my whole life. And every important thing in my life had found itself into poems.”

— Donald Hall

10 Great Quotes About Poetry and Writing by Marianne Moore

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“Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads.”

“Writing is exciting and baseball is like writing. You can never tell with either how it will go.”

“Poetry is all nouns and verbs.”

“There is a great amount of poetry in unconscious fastidiousness.”

“Poetry is a peerless proficiency of the imagination.”

“Any writer overwhelmingly honest about pleasing himself is almost sure to please others.”

“Conscious writing can be the death of poetry.”

“I see no reason for calling my work poetry except that there is no other category in which to put it.”

“Writing is an undertaking for the modest.”

“One writes because one has a burning desire to objectify what it is indispensable to one’s happiness to express.”

— Marianne Moore

 

 

10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Paul Muldoon

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“The point of poetry is to be acutely discomforting, to prod and provoke, to poke us in the eye, to punch us in the nose, to knock us off our feet, to take our breath away.”

“If the poem has no obvious destination, there’s a chance that we’ll be all setting off on an interesting ride.”

“What I try to do is to go into a poem – and one writes them, of course, poem by poem – to go into each poem, first of all without having any sense whatsoever of where it’s going to end up.”

“That’s one of the great things about poetry; one realises that one does one’s little turn – that you’re just part of the great crop, as it were.”

“For whatever reason, people, including very well-educated people or people otherwise interested in reading, do not read poetry.”

“There’s very little of the intentional about the business of writing poetry, as least as far as I can see.”

“Form is a straitjacket in the way that a straitjacket was a straitjacket for Houdini.”

“I believe that these devices like repetition and rhyme are not artificial, that they’re not imposed, somehow, on the language.”

“We simply have not kept in touch with poetry.”

“Living at that pitch, on that edge, is something which many poets engage in to some extent.”

–Paul Muldoon