10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Thomas Lux

Brass Lock & Comic Books

“I love mystery, strangeness, nuttiness, wildness, leaps across chasms, irreverence, all the crazy stuff we love about poetry. We don’t usually love poems because they are well made, or smart, or deep. We love them for their crazy hearts.”

“Writing is 80% reading.”

“It most matters to me what a poem sounds like. I think line breaks are incredibly important—they are one of the most important ways one tries to make the reader hear the poem exactly as one wants the reader to hear it. Tone, which carries a lot of the reverberations one is hoping to catch, can really only be heard.”

“No poem ever bought a hamburger, or not too many.”

“I emphasize the same things I would if I were teaching a HS [High School] class: clarity, imagination, originality (no clichés, ever!), little or no abstractions, very few adverbs, strong active verbs, as much music as possible (the endless variations of rhyme and cadence, the dance between stressed and unstressed syllables), a little mischief sometimes, honesty, revision, revision, revision, and read, read, read.”

“Dispel the notion that poetry is something that just comes down your arm and you write.”

“I think most often a poem begins for me with an image, a rhythm, a little hint of something that might have metaphorical possibilities. Something one sees, hears, pops into one’s head, pops out of reading—something that seems worth exploring. Like the bear who goes over the mountain: to see what he can see.”

“Everybody knows that for a ballet dancer, in order to make a gazelle-like leap, you have to practice for years to do that. For a piano player, it takes years of practicing to make it look easy. You can’t sit down and just play. But people think because they have language, if they have feelings and they put them down, they have a poem.”

“Making poems rhythmical and musical and believable as human speech and as distilled and tight as possible is very important to me.”

“Facts are irrelevant. A poet’s job is to try to tell the truth. You can bend, change, invent facts all you want to try to do so.”

—Thomas Lux

Invented Poetry Forms – The Lux

Captain Kirk Sepia

I created the lux poetry form earlier this year to pay tribute to one of my favorite poets of all time, Thomas Lux, who passed away in February of 2017. The form itself was inspired by and closely patterned on his delightful short poem “A Little Tooth” (please check it out; you will be glad you did). The lux is a nine line poem consisting of three tercets (stanzas of three lines a piece) with a rhyme scheme of abc cba abc. The lines can be of any length.

Due to the rather subtleness of the rhyme scheme. I feel the lux is a very versatile form suited for a diverse range of subject matter and tone which I hope is demonstrated by the four I wrote posted below. You might note that the last one does double duty, not only as a lux, but as an example of a catalog or list poem (a poem that is simply an inventory of people, places, things, ideas, etc.) as well:


O Captain! My Captain (My Cat)!

The cat’s exploring in the wardrobe
while, in bed, we cuddle, we spoon,
listening to French songs from 1934.

Bored, the cat claws on the wooden floor,
as we sing out loud (and out of tune).
From the night stand, he knocks over a glass globe.

Then he licks your eyelids, and my earlobe,
as he leaps on the bed, running out of things to ruin,
settling instead for chin scratches and a lil “amour” .


You Too

If you feel the need to defend
yourself, you’re probably at fault.
You’re simply guilty, there’s no denial.

Your once “clean” jokes are considered vile,
what was romance to you is now assault.
Don’t speak your mind if it will offend.

Your time of being right is at an end.
Go lock your morality in a vault.
Perhaps one day, it will come back in style.


Aging as a Failed Card Trick

My life now is like that parlor trick
where you attempt to memorize
a deck which you riffle with your thumb.

A continuous stream of faces will come
and go, flickering before my eyes.
Yet as much as I’ll try, my brain’s not quick

enough. The names of five or six might stick
in my head, but the rest just flies
by like my days, recalling only some.


50 Shades of Beige

Khaki, putty, buff, sand, desert dune, camel, taupe,
fawn, muslin, unbleached silk, burlap, chicken feed,
egg shell, hummus, pablum, oatmeal, flan, sugar cane,

sisal, jute, paper sack, cardboard, driftwood, dirty rain,
soup bone, bisque, biscuit, cookie dough, honey mead,
ginger ale, beer, wheat, baguette, waffle cone, castile soap,

manila, trench coat, ram’s horn, graveyard dust, hangman’s rope,
smoke, smog, straw, ecru, penuche fudge, cumin seed,
dried manure, sewer sludge, cat vomit, and aged pee stain.