10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Muriel Rukeyser

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“No one wants to read poetry. You have to make it impossible for them to put the poem down–impossible for them to stop reading it, word after word. You have to keep them from closing the book”.

“All the poems of our lives are not yet made.”

“Breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry.”

“I remember mother saying : Inventors are like poets, a trashy lot.”

“The process of writing a poem represents work done on the self of the poet, in order to make form.”

“The truth of a poem is its form and its content, its music and its meaning are the same.”

“The ‘idea’ for the poem, which may come as an image thrown against memory, as a sound of words that sets off a traveling of sound and meaning, as a curve of emotion (a form) plotted by certain crises of events or image or sound, or as a title which evokes a sense of inner relations; this is the first ‘surfacing’ of the poem. Then a period of stillness may follow.”

“If there were no poetry on any day in the world, poetry would be invented that day. For there would be an intolerable hunger.”

“The universe of poetry is the universe of emotional truth. Our material is in the way we feel and the way we remember.”

“Slowly I would get to pen and paper, make my poems for others unseen and unborn. In the day I would be reminded of those men and women, brave, setting up signals across vast distances, considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.”

— Muriel Rukeyser

 

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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

10 More Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Mary Oliver

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“Writers sometimes give up what is most strange and wonderful about their writing – soften their roughest edges – to accommodate themselves toward a group response.”

“I want to write something so simply about love or about pain that even as you are reading you feel it and as you read you keep feeling it and though it be my story it will be common, though it be singular it will be known to you so that by the end you will think— no, you will realize— that it was all the while yourself arranging the words, that it was all the time words that you yourself, out of your heart had been saying.”

“I consider myself kind of a reporter – one who uses words that are more like music and that have a choreography. I never think of myself as a poet; I just get up and write.”

“I decided very early that I wanted to write. But I didn’t think of it as a career. I didn’t even think of it as a profession… It was the most exciting thing, the most powerful thing, the most wonderful thing to do with my life.”

“I have a notebook with me all the time, and I begin scribbling a few words. When things are going well, the walk does not get anywhere; I finally just stop and write.”

“It was not a choice of writing or not writing. It was a choice of loving my life or not loving my life. To keep writing was always a first priority…. I worked probably 25 years by myself…. Just writing and working, not trying to publish much. Not giving readings. A longer time than people really are willing to commit before they want to go public.”

“It is no use thinking that writing of poems – the actual writing – can accommodate itself to a social setting, even the most sympathetic social setting of a workshop composed of friends. It cannot. The work improves there and often the will to work gets valuable nourishment and ideas. But, for good reasons, the poem requires of the writer not society or instruction, but a patch of profound and unbroken solitude.”

“I’ve always wanted to write poems and nothing else.”

“Writing a poem … is a kind of possible love affair between something like the heart (that courageous but also shy factory of emotion) and the learned skills of the conscious mind.”

“… to write well it is entirely necessary to read widely and deeply. Good poems are the best teachers.”

–Mary Oliver

10 Great Quotes About Poetry and Writing by Anne Sexton

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“Poetry to me is prayer.”

“When I’m writing, I know I’m doing the thing I was born to do.”

“A woman who writes feels too much.”

“Craft is a trick you make up to let you write the poem.”

“It’s a little mad, but I believe I am many people. When I am writing a poem, I feel I am the person who should have written it.”

“All I am is the trick of words writing themselves.”

“The beautiful feeling after writing a poem is on the whole better even than after sex, and that’s saying a lot.”

“I think of myself as writing for one person, that one perfect reader who understands and loves.”

“I think I’ve been writing black poems all along, wearing my white mask. I’m always the victim … but no longer!”

“I keep feeling that there isn’t one poem being written by any one of us – or a book or anything like that. The whole life of us writers, the whole product I guess I mean, is the one long poem – a community effort if you will. It’s all the same poem. It doesn’t belong to any one writer – it’s God’s poem perhaps. Or God’s people’s poem.”

— Anne Sexton

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

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“Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.”

“Poetry is a river; many voices travel in it; poem after poem moves along in the exciting crests and falls of the river waves. None is timeless; each arrives in an historical context; almost everything, in the end, passes. But the desire to make a poem, and the world’s willingness to receive it–indeed the world’s need of it–these never pass.”

“Poetry is a serious business; literature is the apparatus through which the world tries to keep intact its important ideas and feelings.”

“Poetry is one of the ancient arts, and it began, as did all the fine arts, within the original wilderness of the earth. Also, it began through the process of seeing, and feeling, and hearing, and smelling, and touching, and then remembering–I mean remembering in words–what these perceptual experiences were like, while trying to describe the endless invisible fears and desires of our inner lives.”

“Look for verbs of muscle, adjectives of exactitude.”

“The three ingredients of poetry: the mystery of the universe, spiritual curiosity, the energy of language.”

“Rhythm is one of the most powerful of pleasures, and when we feel a pleasurable rhythm we hope it will continue. When it does, it grows sweeter.”

“He is exactly the poem I wanted to write.”

“The poet must not only write the poem but must scrutinize the world intensely, or anyway that part of the world he or she has taken for subject. If the poem is thin, it is likely so not because the poet does not know enough words, but because he or she has not stood long enough among the flowers–has not seen them in any fresh, exciting, and valid way.”

“It’s very important to write things down instantly, or you can lose the way you were thinking out a line. I have a rule that if I wake up at 3 in the morning and think of something, I write it down. I can’t wait until morning – it’ll be gone.”

-Mary Oliver

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 and Poetry by Wallace Stevens

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“A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman.”

“In poetry, you must love the words, the ideas and the images and rhythms with all your capacity to love anything at all.”

“The poet is the priest of the invisible.”

“A poem need not have a meaning and like most things in nature often does not have.”

“The reading of a poem should be an experience. Its writing must be all the more so.”

“Poetry is a means of redemption.”

“The poet makes silk dresses out of worms.”

“The purpose of poetry is to make life complete in itself.”

“Poetry is poetry, and one’s objective as a poet is to achieve poetry precisely as one’s objective in music is to achieve music.”

“Most poets who have little or nothing to say are concerned primarily with the way in which they say it … if it is true that the style of a poem and the poem itself are one, … it may be … that the poets who have little or nothing to say are, or will be, the poets that matter.”

-Wallace Stevens