10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing By Galway Kinnell

“A poet should not call himself a ‘poet’, being a poet is so marvelous an accomplishment that it would be boasting to say it of oneself.”

“Perhaps poetry will be the canary in the mine-shaft warning us of what’s to come.”

“That’s the way it is with poetry: When it is incomprehensible it seems profound, and when you understand it, it is only ridiculous.”

“One thing that leads one into poetry is an interest in words. Not words as written things with a referent, but words as sound that the body produces, that fill the mouth and that are therefore in some way psychically identified with the thing they’re talking about. And that have a content which can’t be reduced to a definition. Like ‘spartled.’ ”

“To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment”

“It’s the poet’s job to figure out what’s happening within oneself, to figure out the connection between the self and the world, and to get it down in words that have a certain shape, that have a chance of lasting.”

“Prose is walking; poetry is flying”

“When you write well, there is a kind of special mood that comes upon you, different, I suppose, for every person, but for everyone different from just the normal, day-to-day way they feel. And words seem to come on their own. You’re understanding them and shaping them, and yet they come out saying things that you didn’t know you could say.”

“There are two versions to every poem – the crying version and the straight version”

“Most good poems address themselves to things that we all know about, and the only preparation we need, as readers, is a kind of paying of respect to our inner life, to the feelings we have that are of no practical importance: the sense of strangeness and the hauntedness of existence; the fragility of our position on the globe, and the fragility of the globe itself; this very peculiar situation we’re in, self-conscious creatures who know that we’re lost in some kind of existence that we don’t understand at all.”

—Galway Kinnell