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

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10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Yusef Komunyakaa

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“Poetry helps me understand who I am. It helps me understand the world around me. But above all, what poetry has taught me is the fact that I need to embrace mystery in order to be completely human.”

“Poetry is a process of getting back to the unconscious. Hence, I am always writing-even when I’m not facing the white space. I feel writers are like reservoirs of images. We take in what is around us.”

“I like connecting the abstract to the concrete. There’s a tension in that. I believe the reader or listener should be able to enter the poem as a participant. So I try to get past resolving poems.”

“It wasn’t a deliberate decision to become a poet. It was something I found myself doing – and loving. Language became an addiction.”

“I define poetry as celebration and confrontation. When we witness something, are we responsible for what we witness? That’s an on-going existential question. Perhaps we are and perhaps there’s a kind of daring, a kind of necessary energetic questioning. Because often I say it’s not what we know, it’s what we can risk discovering.”

“Poets are seen as the caretakers of language, so working with words no matter what the form is what we do.”

“Students often have such a lofty idea of what a poem is, and I want them to realize that their own lives are where the poetry comes from. The most important things are to respect the language; to know the classical rules, even if only to break them; and to be prepared to edit, to revise, to shape.”

“Poetry is a kind of distilled insinuation. It’s a way of expanding and talking around an idea or a question. Sometimes, more actually gets said through such a technique than a full frontal assault.”

“There’s a sameness about American poetry that I don’t think represents the whole people. It represents a poetry of the moment, a poetry of evasion, and I have problems with this. I believe poetry has always been political, long before poets had to deal with the page and white space . . . it’s natural.”

“I think of my poems as personal and public at the same time. You could say they serve as psychological overlays. One fits on top of the other, and hopefully there’s an ongoing evolution of clarity.”

— Yusef Komunyakaa

10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Kenneth Koch

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“I’m a writer who likes to be influenced.”

“I thought, There are a lot of poets who have the courage to look into the abyss, but there are very few who have the courage to look happiness in the face and write about it,’ which is what I wanted to be able to do.”

“Poetry is a deliberate attempt to make language suggestive and imprecise.”

“One day the Nouns were clustered in the street.
An Adjective walked by, with her dark beauty.
The Nouns were struck, moved, changed.
The next day a Verb drove up, and created the Sentence.”

“All poetry comes from repetition.”

“When you finish a poem, it clicks shut like the top of a jewel box, but prose is endless. I haven’t experienced an awful lot of clicking shut!

As for political poetry, as it’s usually defined, it seems there’s very little good political poetry.”

“You can’t be too influenced by a great poet. You simply have to live through it.”

“Poetry, which is written while no one is looking, is meant to be looked at for all time.”

“When you get an idea, go and write. Don’t waste it in conversation.”

— Kenneth Koch

10 More Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by W.H. Auden

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“In the eyes of others a man is a poet if he has written one good poem. In his own he is only a poet at the moment when he is making his last revision to a new poem. The moment before, he was still only a potential poet; the moment after, he is a man who has ceased to write poetry, perhaps forever.”

“Language is the mother, not the handmaiden, of thought; words will tell you things you never thought or felt before.”

“No poet or novelist wishes he were the only one who ever lived, but most of them wish they were the only one alive, and quite a number fondly believe their wish has been granted.”

“I just try to put the thing out and hope somebody will read it. Someone says: ‘Whom do you write for?’ I reply: ‘Do you read me?’ If they say ‘Yes,’ I say, ‘Do you like it?’ If they say ‘No,’ then I say, ‘I don’t write for you.’ “

“The poet who writes “free” verse is like Robinson Crusoe on his desert island: he must do all his cooking, laundry and darning for himself. In a few exceptional cases, this manly independence produces something original and impressive, but more often the result is squalor – dirty sheets on the unmade bed and empty bottles on the unswept floor.”

“The chances are that, in the course of his lifetime, the major poet will write more bad poems than the minor, simply because major poets write a lot.”

“A writer, or at least a poet, is always being asked by people who should know better: “Whom do you write for?” The question is, of course, a silly one, but I can give it a silly answer. Occasionally I come across a book which I feel has been written especially for me and for me only. Like a jealous lover I don’t want anybody else to hear of it. To have a million such readers, unaware of each other’s existence, to be read with passion and never talked about, is the daydream, surely, of every author.”

“A poet can write about a man slaying a dragon, but not about a man pushing a button that releases a bomb.”

“But if a stranger in the train asks me my occupation, I never answer “writer” for fear that he may go on to ask me what I write, and to answer “poetry” would embarrass us both, for we both know that nobody can earn a living simply by writing poetry.”

“The ideal audience the poet imagines consists of the beautiful who go to bed with him, the powerful who invite him to dinner and tell him secrets of state, and his fellow-poets. The actual audience he gets consists of myopic schoolteachers, pimply young men who eat in cafeterias, and his fellow-poets. This means, in fact, he writes for his fellow-poets.”

-W. H. Auden

 

10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by W.H. Auden

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“A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.”

“A poet must never make a statement simply because it is sounds poetically exciting; he must also believe it to be true.”

“It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it.”

“Adjectives are the potbelly of poetry”

“Poetry is the only art people haven’t learned to consume like soup.”

“The primary function of poetry, as of all the arts, is to make us more aware of ourselves and the world around us. I do not know if such increased awareness makes us more moral or more efficient. I hope not. I think it makes us more human, and I am quite certain it makes us more difficult to deceive.”

“You will be a poet because you will always be humiliated.”

“What is a Professor of Poetry? How can poetry be professed?”

“Rhymes, meters, stanza forms, etc., are like servants. If the master is fair enough to win their affection and firm enough to command their respect, the result is an orderly happy household. If he is too tyrannical, they give notice; if he lacks authority, they become slovenly, impertinent, drunk and dishonest.”

-W. H. Auden

10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Stanley Kunitz

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“The poem comes in the form of a blessing, like rapture breaking on the mind.”

“Poetry is ultimately mythology, the telling of stories of the soul. The old myths, the old gods, the old heroes have never died. They are only sleeping at the bottom of our minds, waiting for our call. We have need of them, for in their sum they epitomize the wisdom and experience of the race.”

“I want to write poems that are natural, luminous, deep, spare. I dream of an art so transparent that you can look through and see the world.”

“A poem has secrets that the poet knows nothing of.”

“You must be careful not to deprive the poem of its wild origin.”

“End with an image and don’t explain.”

“The poem in the head is always perfect. Resistance begins when you try to convert it into language.”

“Few young poets are testing their poems against the ear. They’re writing for the page, and the page, let me tell you, is a cold bed.”

“Poetry today is easier to write but harder to remember.”

“The ear writes my poems, not the mind.”

– Stanley Kunitz

10 Great Quotes About Poetry and Writing by Mark Strand

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“Life makes writing poetry necessary to prove I really was paying attention.”

“A great many people seem to think writing poetry is worthwhile, even though it pays next to nothing and is not as widely read as it should be.”

“Poetry is something that happens in universities, in creative writing programs or in English departments.”

“The number of people writing poems is vast, and their reasons for doing so are many, that much can be surmised from the stacks of submissions.”

“It’s very hard to write humor.”

“There’s a certain point, when you’re writing autobiographical stuff, where you don’t want to misrepresent yourself. It would be dishonest.”

“Pain is filtered in a poem so that it becomes finally, in the end, pleasure.”

“Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. There is no happiness like mine. I have been eating poetry.”

“I feel that anything is possible in a poem.”

“Usually a life turned into a poem is misrepresented.”

– Mark Strand