Quotes on Writing Poetry

Collin and Kate both tagged me for a Quote Meme— to find 10 quotes from poets that flow with my thoughts on poetry writing. I guess this is some sort of small landmark in my blogging since this is my first time doing one of these (no wise cracks CK or MM). I added an extra quote for the heck of it.

Images are probably the most important part of the poem. First of all you want to tell a story, but images are what are going to shore it up and get to the heart of the matter.
~ Anne Sexton

You run into people who want to write poetry who don’t want to read anything in the tradition. That’s like wanting to be a builder but not finding out what different kinds of wood you use.
~ Gary Snyder

Any work of art makes one very simple demand on anyone who genuinely wants to get in touch with it. And that is to stop. You’ve got to stop what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, and what you’re expecting and just be there for the poem for however long it take.
~ W.S. Merwin

The title of your poem can accomplish something your poem did not.
~ Beth Gylys

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”
~ Robert Frost

Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.
~ Paul Engle

The joy that isn’t shared dies young.
~ Anne Sexton

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.
~ Maya Angelou

If technique is of no interest to a writer, I doubt that the writer is an artist.
~Marianne Moore

A poetry articulating the dreads and horrors of our time is necessary in order to make readers understand what is happening, really understand it, not just know about it but feel it: and should be accompanied by a willingness on the part of those who write it to take additional action towards stopping the great miseries which they record.
~ Denise Levertov

I tag MM, Robin, & Charlie.


6 responses to “Quotes on Writing Poetry

  1. YES!!, re: courage.

    I like the Gylys quote–I tell my students to pick a title that “does a lot of work.” Sometimes if an indispensable line doesn’t work within the poem, I find I can take it out and make it the title.

    I once spent an hour in a car with W. S. Merwin, driving him from San Francisco to San Jose. His beloved dog had just died, so we spent the whole time talking about dogs.

  2. I also really like the courage one.

    And I like “the joy that isn’t shared dies young” – I think it’s important to share joy. It is also important to share sorrow and all other emotions, but joy especially I think. When two people really, truthfully, share each other’s joy, I think that creates a special bond.

    And I like the quote about wood and needing to learn tradition. Innovation is good, but one must study the tradition and the ‘Great Masters’ before being able to truly innovate, to create something new and unique.

  3. Kate– Sexton was my first source of courage. At 19 or 20, I found some courage to write about topics not covered after hearing Maureen Seaton read. Courage is a must.

    I use Gylys’s quote a lot when talking with new writers. How I heart Beth Gyyls!

  4. Sibille–

    Girl, you know we have that special bond! The talk of sharing makes me think of your visit– we had so much fun!

    I’m glad you liked the Sexton quote since you know I’m a die-hard Sexton fan.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s