10 More Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Erica Jong

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“One writes not by will but by surrender.”

“In poetry you can express almost inexpressible feelings. You can express the pain of loss, you can express love. People always turn to poetry when someone they love dies, when they fall in love.”

“I am not quite sure how writing changes things, but I know that it does. It is indirect-like the trails of earthworms aerating the earth. It is not always deliberate-like the tails of glowing dust dragged by comets.”

“It is for this, partly, that I write. How can I know what I think unless I see what I write.”

“Poetry is the language we speak in the most terrifying or ecstatic passages of our lives. But the very word poetry scares people. They think of their grade school teachers reciting ‘Hiawatha’ and they groan.”

“When I’m sitting at the desk not being able to write line one, it’s silence and despair! It’s not so easy to put the pen to the legal pad or type the first sentence on the computer screen.”

“I guess the thing that I’m most proud of is that I kept on writing poetry. I understand that poetry is sort of the source of everything I do. It’s the source of my creativity.”

“Often I find that poems predict what I’m going to do later in my own writing, and often I find that poems predict my life. So I think poetry is the most intense expression of feeling that we have.”

“I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged…I had poems which were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.”

“It’s easier to write about pain than about joy. Joy is wordless.”

—Erica Jong

10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Erica Jong

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“We write poems as leaves give oxygen – so we can breathe.”

“You are always naked when you start writing; you are always as if you had never written anything before; you are always a beginner. Shakespeare wrote without knowing he would become Shakespeare.”

“I never became a writer for the money. I am a poet first. Even getting published is a miracle for poets.”

“What are the sources of poetry? Love and death and the paradox of love and death. All poetry from the beginning is about Eros and Thanatos. Those are the only subjects. And how Eros and Thanatos interweave.”

“Critics write out of intellectual exercise, not poets. Poets write straight from the heart.”

“If you imagine the world listening, you’ll never write a line. That’s why privacy is so important. You should write first drafts as if they will never be shown to anyone.”

“Nothing you write is ever lost to you. At some other level your mind is working on it.”

“It takes a spasm of love to write a poem.”

“What makes you a poet is a gift for language, an ability to see into the heart of things, and an ability to deal with important unconscious material. When all these things come together, you’re a poet. But there isn’t one little gimmick that makes you a poet. There isn’t any formula for it.”

“Poetry . . . comes blood-warm straight out of the unconscious.”

—Erica Jong