10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Edward Hirsch

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“Poetry connects us to what is deepest in ourselves. It gives us access to our own feelings, which are often shadowy, and engages us in the art of making meaning. It widens the space of our inner lives. It is a magical, mysterious, inexplicable (though not incomprehensible) event in language.”

“And my experience is the best titles, for me, emerge in the process of writing. They don’t usually come at the very beginning and hopefully they don’t come at the very end because then it’s getting late in the day.”

“A poem is a hand, a hook, a prayer. It is a soul in action.”

“The poet wants justice. And the poet wants art. In poetry, we can’t have one without the other.”

“One of the deep fundamentals of poetry is the recurrence of sounds, syllables, words, phrases, lines, and stanzas. Repetition can be one of the most intoxicating features of poetry. It creates expectations, which can be fulfilled or frustrated. It can create a sense of boredom and complacency, but it can also incite enchantment and inspire bliss.”

“The way to become a poet is to read poetry and to imitate what you read and to read passionately and widely and in as involved a way as you can.”

“I think there are different kinds of poetry for different stages of life and there’s the wild, exuberance of youth, there’s the painful agony of midlife experience, there’s the late poetry in the presence of death.”

“Poetry never loses its appeal. Sometimes its audience wanes and sometimes it swells like a wave. But the essential mystery of being human is always going to engage and compel us. We’re involved in a mystery. Poetry uses words to put us in touch with that mystery. We’re always going to need it.”

“There has never been a great poet who wasn’t also a great reader of poetry.”

“Emily Dickinson calls previous poets her kinsmen of the shelf. You can always be consoled by your kinsmen of the shelf and you can participate in poetry by going to them and by trying to make something worthy of them.”

—Edward Hirsch

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

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“Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power.”

“Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.”

“Writing is rewriting what you have rewritten.”

“All poetry is an ordered voice, one which tries to tell you about a vision in the un-visionary language of farm, city, and love.

“But maybe it’s up the hills or under the leaves or in a ditch somewhere. Maybe it’s never found. But what you find, whatever you find, is only part of the missing, and writing is the way the poet finds out what it is he found.”

“I wanted to write poetry almost a little more than I wanted to eat.”

“Verse is not written, it is bled; Out of the poet’s abstract head. Words drip the poem on the page; Out of his grief, delight and rage.”

“Writing is like this — you dredge for the poem’s meaning the way police dredge for a body. They think it is down there under the black water, they work the grappling hooks back and forth.”

“The years rolled their brutal course down the hill of time. Still poor, my clothes still smelling of the horse barn, still writing those doubtful poems where too much emotion clashed with too many words”.

“Has the painter not always gone to an art school, or at least to an established master, for instruction? And the composer, the sculptor, the architect? Then why not the writer? Good poets, like good hybrid corn, are both born and made.”

—Paul Engle

10 Great Quotes About Poets and Poetry by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“Only poetry inspires poetry.”

“Painting was called silent poetry and poetry speaking painting.”

“Everything in creation has its appointed painter or poet and remains in bondage like the princess in the fairy tale ’til its appropriate liberator comes to set it free.”

“Every word was once a poem.”

“It does not need that a poem should be long. Every word was once a poem.”

“Poetry must be as new as foam and as old as the rock.”

“Good poetry could not have been otherwise written than it is. The first time you hear it, it sounds rather as if copied out of some invisible tablet in the Eternal mind than as if arbitrarily composed by the poet.”

“For poetry was all written before time was, and whenever we are so finely organized that we can penetrate into that region where the air is music, we hear those primal warblings, and attempt to write them down, but we lose ever and anon a word, a verse, and substitute something of our own, and thus miswrite the poem.”

“For it is not metres, but a metre-making argument that makes a poem.”

“The true poem is the poet’s mind.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Art by Jean Cocteau

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“Children and lunatics cut the Gordian knot which the poet spends his life patiently trying to untie.”

“I know that poetry is indispensable, but to what I could not say.”

“The job of the poet (a job which can’t be learned) consists of placing those objects of the visible world which have become invisible due to the glue of habit, in an unusual position which strikes the soul and gives them a tragic force.”

“There are poets and there are grownups.”

“The poet, by composing poems, uses a language that is neither dead nor living, that few people speak, and few people understand … We are the servants of an unknown force that lives within us, manipulates us, and dictates this language to us.”

“The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth.”

“Every poem is a coat of arms. It must be deciphered. How much blood, how many tears in exchange for these axes, these muzzles, these unicorns, these torches, these towers, these martlets, these seedlings of stars and these fields of blue!”

“The poet doesn’t invent. He listens.”

“With the writer, line takes precedence over form and content. It runs through the words he assembles. It strikes a continuous note unperceived by ear or eye. It is, in a way, the soul’s style, and if the line ceases to have a life of its own, if it only describes an arabesque, the soul is missing and the writing dies.”

“A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses.”

—Jean Cocteau

10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Art by Carol Ann Duffy

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“For me, poetry is the music of being human. And also a time machine by which we can travel to who we are and to who we will become.”

“You can find poetry in your everyday life, your memory, in what people say on the bus, in the news, or just what’s in your heart.”

“Poets deal in writing about feelings and trying to find the language and images for intense feelings.”

“I like to use simple words, but in a complicated way.”

“I write quite a lot of sonnets, and I think of them almost as prayers: short and memorable, something you can recite.”

“Like the sand and the oyster, it’s a creative irritant. In each poem, I’m trying to reveal a truth, so it can’t have a fictional beginning.”

“I see the shape of the poem before I start writing, and the writing is just the process of arriving at the shape.”

“I have piles of poetry books in the bathroom, on the stairs, everywhere. The only way to write poetry is to read it.”

“I think all poets must feel this: that there is constantly something new to be discovered in the language. It’s like a thrilling encounter, and you can find things.”

“The poem is a form of texting… it’s the original text. It’s a perfecting of a feeling in language – it’s a way of saying more with less, just as texting is.”

–Carol Ann Duffy

 

10 More Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Robert Graves

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“Poetry began in the matriarchal age, and derives its magic from the moon, not from the sun. No poet can hope to understand the nature of poetry unless he has had a vision of the Naked King crucified to the lopped oak, and watched the dancers, red-eyed from the acrid smoke of the sacrificial fires, stamping out the measure of the dance, their bodies bent uncouthly forward, with a monotonous chant of “Kill! kill! kill!” and “Blood! blood! blood!”

“The poet avoids the entire vocabulary of logic unless for satiric purposes, and treats words as living creatures with a preference for those with long emotional histories dating from mediaeval times. Poetry at its purest is, indeed, a defiance of logic.”

“A poet’s destiny is to love.”

“Nine-tenths of English poetic literature is the result either of vulgar careerism or of a poet trying to keep his hand in. Most poets are dead by their late twenties.”

“I revise the manuscript till I can’t read it any longer, then I get somebody to type it. Then I revise the typing. Then it’s retyped again. Then there’s a third typing, which is the final one. Nothing should then remain that offends the eye.”

“Prose books are the show dogs I breed and sell to support my cat.”

“The award of a pure gold medal for poetry would flatter the recipient unduly: no poem ever attains such carat purity. “

“Never use the word ‘audience.’ The very idea of a public, unless the poet is writing for money, seems wrong to me. Poets don’t have an ‘audience’. They’re talking to a single person all the time.”

“Poetry is no more a narcotic than a stimulant; it is a universal bittersweet mixture for all possible household emergencies and its action varies accordingly as it is taken in a wineglass or a tablespoon, inhaled, gargled or rubbed on the chest by hard fingers covered with rings.”

“Though philosophers like to define poetry as irrational fancy, for us it is practical, humorous, reasonable way of being ourselves.”

— Robert Graves

10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Thomas Lux

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“I love mystery, strangeness, nuttiness, wildness, leaps across chasms, irreverence, all the crazy stuff we love about poetry. We don’t usually love poems because they are well made, or smart, or deep. We love them for their crazy hearts.”

“Writing is 80% reading.”

“It most matters to me what a poem sounds like. I think line breaks are incredibly important—they are one of the most important ways one tries to make the reader hear the poem exactly as one wants the reader to hear it. Tone, which carries a lot of the reverberations one is hoping to catch, can really only be heard.”

“No poem ever bought a hamburger, or not too many.”

“I emphasize the same things I would if I were teaching a HS [High School] class: clarity, imagination, originality (no clichés, ever!), little or no abstractions, very few adverbs, strong active verbs, as much music as possible (the endless variations of rhyme and cadence, the dance between stressed and unstressed syllables), a little mischief sometimes, honesty, revision, revision, revision, and read, read, read.”

“Dispel the notion that poetry is something that just comes down your arm and you write.”

“I think most often a poem begins for me with an image, a rhythm, a little hint of something that might have metaphorical possibilities. Something one sees, hears, pops into one’s head, pops out of reading—something that seems worth exploring. Like the bear who goes over the mountain: to see what he can see.”

“Everybody knows that for a ballet dancer, in order to make a gazelle-like leap, you have to practice for years to do that. For a piano player, it takes years of practicing to make it look easy. You can’t sit down and just play. But people think because they have language, if they have feelings and they put them down, they have a poem.”

“Making poems rhythmical and musical and believable as human speech and as distilled and tight as possible is very important to me.”

“Facts are irrelevant. A poet’s job is to try to tell the truth. You can bend, change, invent facts all you want to try to do so.”

—Thomas Lux