10 More Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

“If you would be a poet, write living newspapers. Be a reporter from outer space, filing dispatches to some supreme managing editor who believes in full disclosure and has a low tolerance for bullshit.”

“Poetry is what we would cry out upon awakening in a dark wood in the middle of the journey of our life.”

“The best writing is what’s right in front of you. Sometimes I’d walk down the street with poets and they wouldn’t see anything. I’d have to shake their arm and say, ‘Look! Look!’”

“A poem can be made of common household ingredients. It fits on a single page, yet it can fill a world and fits in the pocket of a heart.”

“I’m really not interested in ‘craft’—I think it’s a miserable word to be applied to poetry. Do you think Keats and Shelley thought about ‘craft’? In fact, can you imagine Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth or any of the other great poets, let’s say Dante, can you imagine them going to a poetry workshop?”

“For even bad poetry has relevance for what it does not say for what it leaves out.”

“I never wanted to be a poet. It chose me, I didn’t choose it. One becomes a poet almost against one’s will, certainly against one’s better judgment.”

“Publishing a book of poetry is still like dropping it off a bridge somewhere and waiting for a splash. Usually, you don’t hear anything.”

“Constantly risking absurdity and death whenever he performs above the heads of his audience, the poet, like an acrobat, climbs on rhyme to a high wire of his own making.”

“Poets, come out of your closets, Open your windows, open your doors, You have been holed up too long in your closed worlds… Poetry should transport the public to higher places than other wheels can carry it…”

—Lawrence Ferlinghetti

10 Great Quotes About Poets and Poetry by Lawrence Ferlinghetti*


“Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone.”

“Poetry is the shadow cast by our streetlight imaginations.”

“Poetry is a naked woman, a naked man, and the distance between them.”

“We have seen the best minds of our generation destroyed by boredom at poetry readings.”

“The art has to make it on its own, without explanations, and it’s the same for poetry. If the poem or the painting has to be explained, then it’s a failure in communication.”

“Poetry is the shortest distance between two humans.”

“Decide if a poem is a question or a declaration, a meditation or an outcry.”

 “What are poets for, in such an age? What is the use of poetry?”

“The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it.”

“If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this meaning sounds apocalyptic.”

– Lawrence Ferlinghetti

*Lawrence Ferlinghetti celebrates his 100th birthday today!