10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Karl Shapiro

“The public has an unusual relationship to the poet: It doesn’t even know that he is there.“

“As to the proper length of a poem, there’s no ‘proper length’. It should be complete, should present a whole, rounded idea. But keep in mind that the longer a poem is, the tougher it is to write and the harder it is to hold the reader’s interest.”

“Poetry is innocent, not wise. It does not learn from experience, because each poetic experience is unique.”

“Poetry is not a way of saying things; it’s a way of seeing things.”

“Poets of course are even more unpredictable than other writers, overwhelmed as they are by the moment they inhabit and finding it difficult to connect yesterday with tomorrow.”

“Contemporary poetry or the kind a ‘long-hair’ might write is highly abstract and unnecessarily obscure. Those who write the stuff depend on ideas and tricks of language to such an extent that it is often impossible to extract any meaning from their poems.”

“The good poet sticks to his real loves, to see within the realm of possibility. He never tries to hold hands with God or the human race.”

“To write a good poem, the writer should feel pretty damn strongly on the point he’s trying to express. Give it everything, but use your own speech, your own idiom. This gives the piece individuality and strength.”

“Brevity, in poetry, as in the time a guy has to spend getting shot at, is very desirable.”

“A poem should make easy reading for the ordinary guy who doesn’t happen to be a brain trust. The reader should understand the piece and get enjoyment out of it. Otherwise, the poem would be better unwritten.”

—Karl Shapiro