Poem Quotes by Harold Bloom, Eileen Myles, Jhumpa Lahiri, H. P. Lovecraft, Allen Tate, Taylor Mali and many others.
The second, and I think this is the much more overt and I think it is the main cause, I have been increasingly demonstrating or trying to demonstrate that every possible stance a critic, a scholar, a teacher can take towards a poem is itself inevitably and necessarily poetic.
Fred Moten is a poet I really love because he changes who is telling the poem all the time.
I love reading poetry, and yet, at this point, the thought of writing a poem, to me, is tantamount to figuring out a trigonometry question.
The monotony of a long heroic poem may often be pleasantly relieved by judicious interruptions in the perfect succession of rhymes, just as the metre may sometimes be adorned with occasional triplets and Alexandrines.
In a manner of speaking, the poem is its own knower, neither poet nor reader knowing anything that the poem says apart from the words of the poem.
If you’ve ever been to a poetry slam, you know that the highest scoring emotion is self-righteous indignation: how dare you judge me. So in that way, the poem, ‘What Teachers Make,’ is an absolutely formulaic slam poem designed to allow me to get up on my soap box and say, ‘Let me tell you what really makes me angry.’
The poem is a little myth of man’s capacity of making life meaningful. And in the end, the poem is not a thing we see-it is, rather, a light by which we may see-and what we see is life.
You pass a poem to the audience through the words as embodied literally by the rest of your human form. And the people listening and watching come back at you in an equally embodied way.
Klopstock was questioned regarding the meaning of a passage in his poem. He replied, ‘God and I both knew what it meant once; now God alone knows.’
I feel like I am in the service of the poem. The poem isn’t something I make. The poem is something I serve.
I don’t know whether a poem has be there to help to develop something. I think it’s there for itself, for what the reader finds in it.
I don’t think of poetry as a ‘rational’ activity but as an aural one. My poems usually begin with words or phrases which appeal more because of their sound than their meaning, and the movement and phrasing of a poem are very important to me.
I do not usually revise much, though I often cut, particularly the end or toward the end of a poem.
Whether you listen to a piece of music, or a poem, or look at a picture or a jug, or a piece of sculpture, what matters about it is not what it has in common with others of its kind, but what is singularly its own.
There are different gradations of personhood in different poems. Some of them seem far away from me and some up close, and the up-close ones generally don’t say what I want them to say. And that’s true of the persona in the poem who’s lamenting this as a fact of a certain stage of life. But it’s also true of me as me.
For me, the short story is the depth of a novel, the breadth of a poem, and, as you come to the last few paragraphs, the experience of surprise.
In a poem the excitement has to maintain itself. I am governed by the pull of the sentence as the pull of a fabric is governed by gravity.
‘Finally’ actually started out as a poem. I always wrote poetry, and pretty soon I figured out that if I could write poems, I could write songs.
In high school I was very much involved in poetry. You cannot read a poem quickly. There’s too much going on there. There are rhythms and alliterations. You have to read poetry slow, slow, slow to absorb it all.
One reason to write a poem is to flush from the deep thickets of the self some thought, feeling, comprehension, question, music, you didn’t know was in you, or in the world.
A novel takes place over time. It’s a historical narrative, and it needs to have a series of peaks and valleys and the move through. You can’t just start at the highest pitch and stay there, but you can in a lyric poem.
The poem is a form of texting… it’s the original text. It’s a perfecting of a feeling in language – it’s a way of saying more with less, just as texting is.
For me, to have had an impact with anything that you’ve done, whether it’s a painting, a photo, a poem, or something that you’ve created, just that experience is enormous. You don’t get that all the time.
My favorite poem ever was ‘Annabel Lee’ by Edgar Allan Poe.
A good poem brims with reflected beauty and even a bracing, beautiful ugliness. At the center of our lives, in the midst of the busyness and the forgetting, is a story that makes sense when everything extraneous has been taken away.
I’m uncomfortable with the focus on the poet and not on the poem.
I am increasingly attracted to restricting possibility in the poem by inflicting a form upon yourself. Once you impose some formal pattern on yourself, then the poem is pushing back. I think good poems are often the result of that kind of wrestling with the form.
The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.
In a Transtromer poem, you inhabit space differently; a body becomes a thing, a mind floats, things have lives, and even non-things, even concepts, are alive.
Pain is filtered in a poem so that it becomes finally, in the end, pleasure.
For what is a poem but a hazardous attempt at self-understanding: it is the deepest part of autobiography.
Mostly the thought and the verse come inseparably. In my poem Poetics, it’s as close as I come to telling how I do it.
A poem in form still has to have voice, gesture, a sense of discovery, a metaphoric connection, as any poetry does.
I believe the poet shouldn’t be in the poem at all except as a lens or as ears.
It took some time to gather the research and develop it into the storyline, and to finally finish an origin myth poem that I had been working on for twenty years.
When Keats says: ‘Axioms in philosophy are not axioms until they are proved upon our pulses’, what he means is that we don’t necessarily believe what a poem is saying if it comes out and tells us in an absolutely head-on, in-your-face way; we only believe it to be true if we feel it to be true.
Every old poem is sacred.
I like to know that when I’m 90 years old, I’m going to be able to look at a song or poem I wrote and say, ‘Wow! I remember I was so crazy about this person,’ or ‘I remember what that day felt like.’
The poem that became the song ‘Gold All Over the Ground’ was written during 1967, when my dad was really falling in love with my mother.
One does not read a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks with hopes that it will grant him a career in engineering; he does so because poetry helps him see something in the world that he might not have seen before.
The most important tribute any human being can pay to a poem or a piece of prose he or she really loves is to learn it by heart. Not by brain, by heart; the expression is vital.
Ordering a man to write a poem is like commanding a pregnant woman to give birth to a red-headed child.
A poem is true if it hangs together. Information points to something else. A poem points to nothing but itself.
I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.
I would admit that poetry is something more than mere communication and that if that ‘something more’ could be abstracted from the whole, it might well prove to be that which makes the whole a poem.
Reading a poem aloud to an audience is gestural as much as precise.
Every time you read a poem aloud to yourself in the presence of others, you are reading it into yourself and them. Voice helps to carry words farther and deeper than the eye.
Often people, when they’re confronted with a poem, it’s like someone who keep saying ‘what is the meaning of this? What is the meaning of this?’ And that dulls us to the other pleasures poetry offers.
I write to satisfy the story or poem or piece of fascinating research that speaks to me. To rub a sore, to resonate with joy, to answer a question no one else has satisfactorily answered for me.
I have always thought of poems as stepping stones in one’s own sense of oneself. Every now and again, you write a poem that gives you self-respect and steadies your going a little bit farther out in the stream. At the same time, you have to conjure the next stepping stone because the stream, we hope, keeps flowing.
The experiment of the poem is mostly intuitive. I write the first draft, pulling in the various elements that interest me, in the hope that their being combined will lead to some kind of insight.
Poems are not read: they are reread. Reread the poem, then read between the lines, then look at it, then watch it, then peek at it: handle it like an object. Contemplate its shadows, angles and dimensions.
When you’re writing, you’re in a totally different zone… I can start a difficult poem and look up at the clock and see to my astonishment that three hours have passed.
I write the occasional poem. I think my dabbling in poetry makes me better at screenplays. Poetry teaches the value of condensing, the importance of talking in a few words.
A poem need not have a meaning and like most things in nature often does not have.
A dark poem is meant to redeem the dark part.
The genesis of a poem for me is usually a cluster of words. The only good metaphor I can think of is a scientific one: dipping a thread into a supersaturated solution to induce crystal formation. I don’t think I solve problems in my poetry; I think I uncover the problems.
For many years, I thought a poem was a whisper overheard, not an aria heard.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with someone having to read a poem twice. Or even a book.
I write with a Uni-Ball Onyx Micropoint on nine-by-seven bound notebooks made by a Canadian company called Blueline. After I do a few drafts, I type up the poem on a Macintosh G3 and then send it out the door.
Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them; for those experiences have left an indelible impression, and we are ever and anon reminded of them.
I have a favorite poem. From Rudyard Kipling. It’s called ‘L’Envoi.’
The only thing you can really say in a poem is what you really, really deeply believe.
One of the things women poets have been engaged in – among the other things they’ve been doing – is revising parts of the poetic self. Re-examining notions of the authority within the poem, and of the poem.
Sometimes the only way I know how to work through something is by writing a poem. And sometimes I get to the end of the poem and look back and go, ‘Oh, that’s what this is all about,’ and sometimes I get to the end of the poem and haven’t solved anything, but at least I have a new poem out of it.
Imagine writing a poem with a sweating, worried-looking boy handing you a different pencil at the end of every word. My golf, you may say, is no poem; nevertheless, I keep wanting it to be one.
To a poet, it’s quite ruinous to have a poem distorted, out of shape, or squeezed, shall we say, into this tiny screen. But I’m not sure big digital companies are sensitive to the needs of poets.
Critics? How do they happen? I know how it happened to me. I would send a poem or story to a magazine and they would say this doesn’t suit our needs precisely but on the other hand you sound interesting. Would you be interested in doing a review?
A poem generated by its own laws may be unrealized and bad in terms of so-called objective principles of taste, judgement, deduction.
When you look at classical structures, they’re often linked to literature, music, or a poem. They were constructed by master builders, which means it’s not something standard that you can copy.
The idea that a poem was a made thing stayed with me, and I decided then that I wanted to be an artist, not just a diarist. So I put myself through a kind of apprenticeship in writing poetry, and I understood even then that my practice as a poet was deeply related to my reading.
The commitment to working at poetry is important because a poet is a maker, and a poem is a made thing. We have to honor our feelings by working to transform them into something meaningful and lasting.
The first thing I tried to do in the months after losing my mother was to write a poem. I found myself turning to poetry in the way so many people do – to make sense of losses. And I wrote pretty bad poems about it. But it did feel that the poem was the only place that could hold this grief.
I like connecting the abstract to the concrete. There’s a tension in that. I believe the reader or listener should be able to enter the poem as a participant. So I try to get past resolving poems.
When I started writing poetry, it was always in very hip-hop influenced spaces: Someone would teach a Nas song side-by-side with a Gwendolyn Brooks poem, and we’d talk about the connections between those things.
I wrote a poem on my leg once, on the skin.
When I first knew that I wanted to rap I was seven years old and I lost the talent show. It was like spoken word or something. My mom made me do it. It was a Langston Hughes poem. The girl that came on after me, she wound up winning. She was a singer.
I’m very impressed by the imagery in the ‘Apologia’, which is a kind of sustained poem. It’s not just a piece of apologetics of the sort you find in Jesuit literature: ‘Why I came over’, and so on. It’s a tremendously rewarding book but requires perseverance on the part of the reader.
Students often have such a lofty idea of what a poem is, and I want them to realize that their own lives are where the poetry comes from. The most important things are to respect the language; to know the classical rules, even if only to break them; and to be prepared to edit, to revise, to shape.
The best thing anybody has ever done is to advise me against publishing a poem that shows me at less than my best, such as it is. That’s the kind of advice most of us resist but really should relish.
An experienced reader uses the poem as an agent of inquiry. This makes poetry very exciting, unstable, and interactive.
I have experienced healing through other writers’ poetry, but there’s no way I can sit down to write in the hope a poem will have healing potential. If I do, I’ll write a bad poem.
I think poetry is the only domain where a writer you like can truly be said to influence you, because you read and reread a poem so many times that it simply drills itself into your head.
‘The Odyssey’ is a great poem to refugee-dom… Odysseus is not entirely a refugee… he’s somebody who’s blown off course. The entire book is an exploration of that theme… I reread it every year… That’s not as surprising as it sounds, because it’s a rip-roaring book.
The wonderful 17th Century poet, Robert Herrick, wrote a poem entitled, ‘To Live Merrily and to Trust to Good Verses.’ Easy to say, Robert Herrick; not always easy to do. But it’s a good slogan, I think.
I have a personal little routine that I do in my dressing room just to kind of get myself mentally prepared to go on stage, and part of that is a poem that I read to myself.
The first thing I remember writing was a poem – about a princess who sat on a hill and sang all day – when I was eight.
The function of a book or a poem or a story is to delight, to enchant, to beguile.
I’ve approached every character I’ve ever played with a poem, first and foremost.
There are parts on ‘Wind’s Poem’ that are literal recordings of wind. I had this old sound effects record that I got some wind from and then I figured out that distorted cymbals sound just like wind so I used that a lot.
What we call a poem is mostly what is not there on the page. The strength of any poem is the poems that it has managed to exclude.
As I remember, the first real poem I wrote was about the wheat fields between Spokane and Pullman, to the south.
My favourite poem is called ‘Roots and Wings’ – it’s a very moving poem about how if you’ve got real roots you can fly.
During my twenties and thirties, my interest in the political poem increased as my apparent access to it declined. I sensed resistances around me. I was married; I lived in a suburb; I had small children.
When you know the lyrics to a tune, you have some kind of insight as to it’s composition. If you don’t understand what it’s about, you’re depriving yourself of being really able to communicate this poem.
In one line of his poem he said good fences make good neighbors. I’d like to think that Alaska and British Columbia working together can prove that we can be pretty darned good neighbors without fences.
Poetry is as vital as ever. The teaching of poetry reading, however, is sluggish and, often, slovenly. It needs to be expanded in the school curriculum and be more a feature of society at large. The newspapers should all be carrying a daily poem. It should be as natural as reading a novel.
It is tiring to be Turkish. The country is badly polarised, bitterly politicized. Every writer, journalist, poet knows that because of an article, a novel, an interview, a poem or a tweet you can be sued, put on trial, even arrested. Self-censorship is widespread.
Writing can sometimes be exploitative. I like to take a few steps of remove in order to respect the privacy of the subject. If readers make the link, they have engaged with the poem.
Twitter was like a poem. It was rich, real and spontaneous. It really fit my style. In a year and a half, I tweeted 60,000 tweets, over 100,000 words. I spent a minimum eight hours a day on it, sometimes 24 hours.
Sometimes a poem appeals to me technically, just because of the way a line feels on my lips. Sometimes it is because it says something I have felt, or sometimes something that I suddenly recognise. Other times it can change the way I see something.
I write slowly, and I write many, many drafts. I probably have to work as hard as anyone, and maybe harder, to finish a poem. I often write a poem over years, because it takes me a long time to figure out what to say and how best to say it.
The incredible cinematography makes ‘A Walk to Beautiful’ almost like a poem; there is a tenderness on display that seems to emanate from the camera. There is also great sensitivity to the women whose stories are being told – never did I have a sense of the subjects being exploited.
Many performance poets seem to believe that yelling a poem makes it comprehensible. They are wrong.
I’m writing a poem right now about a nose. I’ve always wanted to write a poem about a nose. But it’s a ludicrous subject. That’s why, when I was younger, I was afraid of something that didn’t make a lot of sense. But now I’m not. I have nothing to worry about. It doesn’t matter.
My sense of a poem – my notion of how you revise – is: you get yourself into a state where what you are intensely conscious of is not why you wrote it or how you wrote it, but what you wrote.
If you write a letter of resignation or something with an agenda, you’re simply using a pen to record what you have thought out. In a poem, the pen is more like a flashlight, a Geiger counter, or one of those metal detectors that people walk around beaches with.
Just as a new scientific discovery manifests something that was already latent in the order of nature, and at the same time is logically related to the total structure of the existing science, so the new poem manifests something that was already latent in the order of words.
I accept all interpretations of my films. The only reality is before the camera. Each film I make is kind of a return to poetry for me, or at least an attempt to create a poem.
Whether it’s a poem I’m working on or a picture I’ve snapped, it all has to do with the curiosity I feel without thinking about it.
I would not say I chose to write long poems on a conscious level. The long poem has been a relative constant.
Manipulating shadows and tonality is like writing music or a poem.
A writer’s work often reflects what he or she has been exposed to in life; experiences which are the groundwork of a poem or a story.
One of the rules of Greek lament poetry is that it mustn’t mention the dead by name in case of invoking a ghost. Maybe the ‘Iliad,’ crowded with names, is more than a poem. Maybe it’s a dangerous piece of the brightness of both this world and the next.
A person who’s only suffering can’t write a poem. There are choices to be made, and you need to be objective.
A Herd of Turtles’ is the only song on ‘Behold Electric Guitar’ that is not strictly instrumental. But instead of singing, I am reciting a poem. My poem is about overcoming challenges.
A poem may be an instance of morality, of social conditions, of psychological history; it may instance all its qualities, but never one of them alone, nor any two or three; never less than all.
The question of sort of music and history, I think, are so important to understanding the poem as an idea but also us as people in the world.
In history class, I wrote a poem, ‘The Royalists and the Roundheads.’ I would write poems about driftwood in art class and little stories about the sun, moon, and stars in science class. Since not many kids were writing in class, I got away with it.
And at least in poetry you should feel free to lie. That is, not to lie, but to imagine what you want, to follow the direction of the poem.
My first spoken word poem, packed with all the wisdom of a 14-year-old, was about the injustice of being seen as unfeminine. The poem was very indignant, and mainly exaggerated, but the only spoken word poetry that I had seen up until that point was mainly indignant, so I thought that that’s what was expected of me.
A so-called happy marriage corresponds to love as a correct poem to an improvised song.
Peace goes into the making of a poem as flour goes into the making of bread.
A lot of my poems either have historical sequences or other kinds of chronological grids where I’m locating myself in time. I like to feel oriented, and I like to orient the reader at the beginning of a poem.
The figure a poem makes. It begins in delight and ends in wisdom… in a clarification of life – not necessarily a great clarification, such as sects and cults are founded on, but in a momentary stay against confusion.
Style is not something applied. It is something that permeates. It is of the nature of that in which it is found, whether the poem, the manner of a god, the bearing of a man. It is not a dress.
‘Safe Harbor’ is a state of mind… it’s the place – in reality or metaphor – to which one goes in times of trouble or worry. It can be a friendship, marriage, church, garden, beach, poem, prayer, or song.
The poem is the literary form of the 21st century. It’s able to connect young people in a deep way to language… it’s language as play.
Scientific understanding is often beautiful, a profoundly aesthetic experience which gives pleasure not unlike the reading of a great poem.
A poet can feel free, in my estimation, to write a poem for himself. Or a painter can paint a painting for himself. You can write a short story for yourself. But for me, comedy by its nature is communal. If other people don’t get it, I’m not sure why you are doing it.
The box was a universe, a poem, frozen on the boundaries of human experience.
A great poem leaves so much room for everybody to have such a different reaction to it.
My parents’ generation was definitely pre-telly, and they knew how to entertain each other. Everybody knew something that they could do – a song or a poem, or a piece of music. At school, I remember being a cat and then a budgie and then a bumble bee. I obviously thought all that was marvelous.
Verse is not written, it is bled; Out of the poet’s abstract head. Words drip the poem on the page; Out of his grief, delight and rage.
Lyrics are very different. There is a clear line between that and a poem. Something that has been a source of great excitement and delight for me is this idea that I get to rhyme.
I see that it is impossible to remember a long poem without practice and repetition; so is forgetfulness of the words of instruction engendered in the heart that has ceased to value them.
I see my work behind the camera as the actualization of a poem. I like to linger on images, conveying things through stillness.
Traditional paintings have few figures in them and value negative space. Japanese calligraphy and brush paintings are in black and white. Haiku is the shortest poem form in the world. These are a few examples of a minimalistic aesthetic in Japanese art and culture.
I can write a poem in 10 minutes. I like writing songs; I can write songs in 5 or 10 minutes. My concentration seems very short.
What I try to do is to go into a poem – and one writes them, of course, poem by poem – to go into each poem, first of all without having any sense whatsoever of where it’s going to end up.
You will enjoy the TV and radio forecast much more if you stop taking it as advice and simply treat it as a short poem about the weather.
Poems have a different music from ordinary language, and every poem has a different kind of music of necessity, and that’s, in a way, the hardest thing about writing poetry is waiting for that music, and sometimes you never know if it’s going to come.
Several elementary school teachers had described me as a ‘future authoress or poetess.’ Mother took me to meet Chicago’s leading black librarian, who published a poem of mine in the magazine she edited for Negro children.
Even though I am the daughter of a poet, and my stepmother is also a poet, growing up, I didn’t think I could understand poetry; I didn’t think that it had any relevance to my life, the feelings that I endured on a day-to-day basis, until I was introduced to the right poem.
We know the particular poem, not what it says that we can restate.
Usually, a number of events will be going on around me to start me on a book. What I mean is, I will have read a poem or seen a picture that is lingering in my mind.
I think what gets a poem going is an initiating line. Sometimes a first line will occur, and it goes nowhere; but other times – and this, I think, is a sense you develop – I can tell that the line wants to continue.
The reader’s challenge is to replicate the experiment by reading the poem and to draw their own conclusions.
A picture is a poem without words.
A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.
The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the finger of Adam, whether it takes ultimate shape in a law of physics or a law of the land, a poem or a policy, a sonata or a mechanical computer.
But short films are not inferior, just different. I think the short gives a freedom to film-makers. What’s appealing is that you don’t have as much responsibility for storytelling and plot. They can be more like a portrait, or a poem.
A poet’s cultural baggage and erudition can interfere with a poem.
Do not wait for a poem; a poem is too fast for you. Do not wait for the poem; run with the poem and then write the poem.
Attempts to put my poems to music have had disastrous results in all cases. And the poem, if it’s written with the ear, already has been set to its own verbal music as it was composed.
A poem records emotions and moods that lie beyond normal language, that can only be patched together and hinted at metaphorically.
Sometimes my boyfriend would write the lyrics and I would write the melody, and other times I would start from scratch. Or sometimes I would take a local poem and put that to music.
Weaknesses have a certain function in a poem… some strategy in order to pave the reader’s way to the impact of this or that line.
The form of my poem rises out of a past that so overwhelms the present with its worth and vision that I’m at a loss to explain my delusion that there exist any real links between that past and a future worthy of it.
I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.
Poetry, whatever the manifest content of the poem, is always a violation of the rationalism and morality of bourgeois society.
I am always pleased to be asked to write a poem.
Art is not the kind of thing where you get what you put into it all the time. So I learned to not expect anything other than the sort of joy of having a poem in front of me.
One who writes a poem writes it because the language prompts, or simply dictates, the next line.
Like a pianist runs her fingers over the keys, I’ll search my mind for what to say. Now, the poem may want you to write it. And then sometimes you see a situation and think, ‘I’d like to write about that.’ Those are two different ways of being approached by a poem, or approaching a poem.
I entered a poem in a poetry contest around 1987, and the poem won and I received $1,000 for it. That made me realize that maybe what I was writing was worth reading to people. After that, for some reason, I turned to novels and I’ve written mainly novels ever since.
I remember that as I was writing a poem on ‘Snow’ when I was eight, I said aloud, ‘I wish I could have the ability to write down the feelings I have now when I am little, because when I grow up, I will know how to write, but I will have forgotten what being little feels like.’
We hold that the most wonderful and splendid proof of genius is a great poem produced in a civilized age.
To read a poem is to hear it with our eyes; to hear it is to see it with our ears.
I try to write very fast. I don’t revise very much. I write the poem in one sitting. Just let it rip. It’s usually over in twenty to forty minutes. I’ll go back and tinker with a word or two, change a line for some metrical reason weeks later, but I try to get the whole thing just done.
One of my greatest joys is poetry. I read it almost every day, and I’ve even taken a stab at writing some of my own. A poem I wrote for my mother when she was dying really helped me get through that hard time.
The composition of a single melody is born out of a bit of text, perhaps the first line, but it can also be the entire strophe; it can even be the poem’s overall form.
Sunday is a likely day to write a poem. Because poetry is a piece of language flying around: you’ll find notebooks, something on your phone. It’s about finding them and getting them off that crumpled piece of paper and onto my computer.
How does one happen to write a poem: where does it come from? That is the question asked by the psychologists or the geneticists of poetry.
A poem I write is not just about me; it is about national identity, not just regional but national, the history of people in relation to other people. I reach for these outward stories to make sense of my own life, and how my story intersects with a larger public history.
Robert Frost had always said you mustn’t think of the last line first, or it’s only a fake poem, not a real one. I’m inclined to agree.
Sometimes it’s like that. I go, ‘You know what? I’m going to just change scales. I’m going to even change instruments. And I’m going to go into the chromatics of the Spanish language,’ and I do. You know, the poem is totally different. It’s like a lunar voice versus a day voice, a solar voice.
A poem can have an impact, but you can’t expect an audience to understand all the nuances.
Every single soul is a poem.
If I wrote in a sonnet form, I would be distorting. Or if I had some great new idea for line breaks and I used it in a poem, but it’s really not right for that poem, but I wanted it, that would be distorting.
Sometimes, I think the best kind of poem is one in which there is an acute balance between what is humorous and that which is very serious. That balance is very hard to strike. But it can be done.
Sometimes a poem should just be about a girl jumping rope. It doesn’t have to be something that is imbued with more despair.
When I think of Emily Dickinson, there’s not one particular poem of hers that jumps out, but I do have a very vivid image of an ill woman with giant eyes who wants to write about the sun exploding.
Beginning a poem, the poet as a rule doesn’t know the way it’s going to come out, and at times, he is very surprised by the way it turns out, since often it turns out better than he expected; often his thought carries further than he reckoned.
A Poem does not grow by jerks. As trees in Spring produce a new ring of tissue, so does every poet put forth a fresh outlay of stuff at the same season.
It seems to me that readers sometimes make the genesis of a poem more mysterious than it is (by that I perhaps mean, think of it as something outside their own experience).
Considered subjectively, philosophy always begins in the middle, like an epic poem.
The radio stations will happily recycle a badly worded statement by a politician all day but will steer clear of broadcasting more than once or twice a poem by Tomas Transtromer or Rita Dove.
I thought it would be a funny concept to publish a book about stand-up comedy with Faber, the poetry publisher, and to apply to stand-up the same sort of weight of annotation that you would to a classic work of literature, an epic poem. I thought that would be funny.
My feeling is that poetry will wither on the vine if you don’t regularly come back to the simplest fundamentals of the poem: rhythm, rhyme, simple subjects – love, death, war.
At high school, instead of the weekly essay, I would write a poem, and the teacher accepted that. The impulse was one of laziness, I’m certain. Poems were shorter than essays.
Listeners are kind of ambushed… if a poem just happens to be said when they’re listening to the radio. The listener doesn’t have time to deploy what I call their ‘poetry deflector shields’ that were installed in high school – there’s little time to resist the poem.
Of the individual poems, some are more lyric and some are more descriptive or narrative. Each poem is fixed in a moment. All those moments written or read together take on the movement and architecture of a narrative.
Good poets have written in order to describe something or to preach something – with their eye on the object or the end. The essence of the poetry does not lie in the thing described or in the message imparted but in the resulting concrete unity, the poem.
A poem is a naked person… Some people say that I am a poet.
The poem builds in my mind and sits there, as if in a register, until the poem, or a piece of a longer poem, is finished enough to write down. I can hold several lines in my head for quite some time, but as soon as they are written down, the register clears, as it were, and I have to work with what is on the paper.
I keep the drafts of each poem in color-coded folders. I pick up the folders according to how I feel about that color that day.
Ooh, it’s too embarrassing to share my innermost romantic secrets – although I have written Danielle the odd poem. If anything they are more comedic than romantic. They used to be well-received but that was before she started studying Shakespeare at drama college. Now I feel so inept.
Jews have a special relationship to books, and the Haggadah has been translated more widely, and reprinted more often, than any other Jewish book. It is not a work of history or philosophy, not a prayer book, user’s manual, timeline, poem or palimpsest – and yet it is all these things.
I think you can have the greatest lyrics in the world and if it doesn’t have the best tune in the world it will suck. I mean if the music wasn’t important it would just be a poem.
What a poem can do is provide you this intimate eye that, for the length of a poem and hopefully a little bit after, can provide testimony or a point of view.
In a long poem or a sequence of poems, you’re trying to formalize your obsessions and give them a shape and a name. The key is to realize if the connections you are making are ones with resonance.
If I felt, in the event of a royal wedding, inspired to write about people coming together in marriage or civil partnership, I would just be grateful to have an idea for the poem. And if I didn’t, I’d ignore it.
In Surojit’s film, ‘Pagol Hawar Bodol Din,’ I am a villager. Victor Banerjee is also part of the film. The uniqueness of ‘PHBD’ is that the whole film is like a poem.
The poem, for me, is simply the first sound realized in the modality of being.
In my relationship with a young guy I was going with in a band – his name was Sylvester, and I think he had another little girl on the side – I told him, ‘If you lose me, you’re going to lose a good thing.’ And I went home and put that poem to music.
I have a high guilt quotient. A poem can go through as many as 50 or 60 drafts. It can take from a day to two years-or longer.
If you’re a songwriter, you have to do homework. You can exist for a while on the inspiration, but at some point, you have to sit down and have the discipline to write – to finish the poem, as they say.
The poem ‘What Teachers Make’ is not without its detractors. This one person wrote to me and said: ‘Gee, Mr. Mali. You don’t possibly have a teacher-God complex, do you?’ And that was the first time I’d ever heard of that expression. So, yeah, I’m sure I have a teacher-God complex.
The only real evidence that any critic may bring before his gaze is the finished poem.
I deliberately wrote a poem in my last book where I was suggesting that there are other passions as great as or more important than the passion of sex.
When you put a poem on a Kindle, the lines are broken in order to fit on the screen. And so instead of being the poet’s decision, it becomes the device’s decision.
I read a poem every night, as others read a prayer.
They’re very different things, a poem and a song, you wouldn’t think they would be, but they are.
If you can say the lyrics almost like a poem and they stand up, that’s a great thing. Some songs have great lyrics and I don’t like the melodies, and vice versa.
The number of people who read a poem is not as important as how the poem affects those who read it.
To a poet the mere making of a poem can seem to solve the problem of truth, but only a problem of art is solved in poetry.
For Russians, to whom Pushkin’s poem ‘Eugene Onegin’ is sacred text, the ballet’s story and personae are as familiar and filled with meaning as, for instance, ‘Romeo’ and ‘Hamlet’ are for us. Russians know whole stretches of it by heart, the way we know Shakespeare and Italians know Dante.
Let my life as Poet begin. I want the life of the Poet. I have labored for over twelve years, one thousand pages of prose. Now, I want the easiness of poetry. The brevity of the poem.
No poem is easily grasped; so why should any reader expect fast results?
I think that there are fiction writers for whom that works well. I could never do it. I feel as if, by the time I see that it’s a poem, it’s almost written in my head somewhere.
A really good poem is full of music.
I always feel that whatever isn’t necessary shouldn’t be in a poem.
When I write a poem, I go into a state of self-forgetfulness, and something higher takes over; I like to call it my best self.
When I see great boxers, it’s like reading a wonderful poem.
At the point where I’m trying to force something and it’s not happening, and I’m getting frustrated with, say, writing a poem, I can go and pick up the brushes and start painting. At the point where the painting seems to not be going anywhere, I go and pick up the guitar.
I think writing a poem is like being a greyhound. Writing a novel is like being a mule. You go up one long row, then down another, and try not to look up too often to see how far you still have to go.
The long poem cannot be a digressive, expansive, boring exposition. It is really made of very sharp, Imagistic, quintessential poetic elements.
But most commonly, it’s one poem that I work on with a lot of intensity.
A poem, once it’s written, is meant to be read with the inner voice of the person who reads it.
I try not to observe myself in the process of composing a poem because I don’t want to come up with a formula, which I would then be unscrupulous in using.
A poem can provide testimony. A poem can provide solace. It can provide a connection.
I think what gets a poem going is an initiating line. Sometimes a first line will occur, and it goes nowhere; but other times – and this, I think, is a sense you develop – I can tell that the line wants to continue. If it does, I can feel a sense of momentum – the poem finds a reason for continuing.
For me, a poem is an opportunity to kind of interrogate myself a little bit.
I write from the various experiences I live. Not every poem comes from my personal experience, though. It could be something that a friend lived, or a person from my community here, or a woman anywhere around the world.
I’ve thought of the last line of some poems for years and tried them out, It wouldn’t work because the last line was much too beautiful for the poem.
More than 700 years ago, the Song Dynasty artist Zheng Sixiao created perhaps the most beautiful image of orchids ever painted, ‘Ink Orchid.’ And still famous today is a thousand-year-old poem from the Tang Dynasty called ‘Orchid and Orange.’
I go to the gym, do some martial arts, and I love poetry. I have a tattoo of my family crest, and another on my back that says ‘The Road Not Taken,’ which is a poem by Robert Frost.
It’s a big statement if you use the word ‘America’ in the title of your poem.
But in a lot of ways my poems are very conventional, and it’s no big deal for me to write a poem in either free verse or strict form; modern poets can, and do, do both.
Most students of literature can pick apart a metaphor or spot an ethnic stereotype, but not many of them can say things like: ‘The poem’s sardonic tone is curiously at odds with its plodding syntax.’
For me, a paragraph in a novel is a bit like a line in a poem. It has its own shape, its own music, its own integrity.
There is no scientific discoverer, no poet, no painter, no musician, who will not tell you that he found ready made his discovery or poem or picture – that it came to him from outside, and that he did not consciously create it from within.
I’ve got a poem that’s in a lot of international anthologies called ‘After the Anonymous Swedish’ and I thought, ‘Well, I’m a Swede. I can make up a Swedish poem.’ It turned out pretty good.
I’ve been writing since I was sixteen. At first, I wrote mostly short stories and poetry. The first thing I ever had published was a poem about a football game. It was printed in my local newspaper.
The name Phenomenal Woman was inspired by Maya Angelo, who wrote ‘Phenomenal Woman’, a favorite poem of mine.
The paintings may communicate even better because people are lazy and they can look at a painting with less effort than they can read a poem.
Someone told me just recently that poets are eulogists. It’s their job, to eulogize. I didn’t know that, but it makes sense. Because in almost every poem of mine there is a loss.
Perhaps first and foremost is the challenge of taking what I find as a reader and making it into a poem that, primarily, has to be a plausible poem in English.
It’s always like you write a poem when you can’t really say what you’re trying to say.
There’s a crystallization that goes on in a poem which the young man can bring off, but which the middle-aged man can’t.
I think of my peace paintings as one long poem, with each painting being a single stanza.
I love my funny poems, but I’d rather break your heart. And if I can do both in the same poem, that’s the best.
The way to praise a poet is to write a poem.
For me, the power of the poetry in ‘Milk and Honey’ is the feeling you get after finished reading the poem. It’s the emotion you feel once you’ve read the last word, and that is only possible when the diction is easy, and you don’t get stuck on every other word, you don’t know what the word means.
I want the poem to be an experience – for both the listener and for myself.
The first time I ever got up on a stage, I did a comedy poem. I don’t know how I got there in the first place because I was very, very shy.
I’ve always felt, with ‘The Iliad,’ a real frustration that it’s read wrong. That it’s turned into this public school poem, which I don’t think it is. That glamorising of war, and white-limbed, flowing-haired Greek heroes – it’s become a cliched, British empire part of our culture.
I’ve been fascinated over the years by the way refrains work. Think, say, of the refrains in Yeats’ ballads. Ideally, each time the refrain comes back in a poem, it is both the same and different. It works by counterpoint and reiteration. It accrues meaning.
Daydreaming is one of the key sources of poetry – a poem often starts as a daydream that finds its way into language – and walking seems to bring a different sort of alertness, an associative kind of thinking, a drifting state of mind.
Most poets are young simply because they have not been caught up. Show me an old poet, and I’ll show you, more often than not, either a madman or a master… it’s when you begin to lie to yourself in a poem in order simply to make a poem that you fail. That is why I do not rework poems.
It hardly seems worthwhile to point out the shortsightedness of those practitioners who would have us believe that the form of the poem is merely its shape.
The first time I got onstage was when I was about 5 years old. It was at a church social, and I had a poem to recite.
If you read quickly to get through a poem to what it means, you have missed the body of the poem.
The moment of change is the only poem.
I personally think our national anthem is not patriotic enough. There is another poem by Dwijendralal Ray called ‘Dhono Dhanne Pushpe Bhora,’ which is more soul-stirring as a national anthem.
Sometimes I feel as if I am read before I write. When I write a poem about my mother, Palestinians think my mother is a symbol for Palestine. But I write as a poet, and my mother is my mother. She’s not a symbol.
I can’t tell you where a poem comes from, what it is, or what it is for: nor can any other man. The reason I can’t tell you is that the purpose of a poem is to go past telling, to be recognised by burning.
My secret dream is to write an epic poem. That’s probably the most pretentious thing I’ve said.
Mausoleum air and anguished pauses: If this production were a poem, it would be mostly white space.
Wanted: a needle swift enough to sew this poem into a blanket.
The main thing a poem ought to be is musical. It should be rhythmic. You should hear it as a musical piece in your head as you’re writing it.
The reason one writes poems is so that your poem will be remembered.
To say a poem is absolute is saying nothing, because an ink blot can be absolute. Yet you put into it what you like. So it becomes totally relative.
I do read a poem almost every morning. Unless I’m really, really late, I have to get my poem in.
I know the sag of the unfinished poem. And I know the release of the poem that is finished.
We took Beowulf, the epic poem in Old English, and put it right together with John Gardner’s contemporary retelling. If you bring it into today, we really feel that it has something very fresh to say now.
Of course a poem is a two-way street. No poem is any good if it doesn’t suggest to the reader things from his own mind and recollection that he will read into it, and will add to what the poet has suggested. But I do think poetry readings are very important.
Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city.
The whole world of publishing is moving to electronic, but when you put a poem on a screen and you increase the type size, the shape of a poem changes.
A poem with grandly conceived and executed stanzas, such as one of Keats’s odes, should be like an enfilade of rooms in a palace: one proceeds, with eager anticipation, from room to room.
The first test any poem must pass is no longer, ‘Is it true to nature?’ but a criterion looking in a different direction: namely, ‘Is it sincere? Is it genuine?’
There’s no artist in this world that doesn’t enjoy the dream that if they have bad reviews now, the story of Keats can redeem them, in their fantasy or imagination, in the future. I think Keats’ poem ‘Endymion’ is a really difficult poem, and I’m not surprised that a lot of people pulled it apart in a way.
When I’m writing the poem, I feel like I have to close my eyes. I don’t mean literally, but you invite a kind of blindness, and that’s the birth of the poem.
It is still true that it is easier to compose a poem in the form of a manual for adjusting a VCR than it is to write a piece using just tuning as a symphony.
What writing a poem really does – and what figuring how to perform effectively really does – is forces people to listen to you. It frames your thoughts in such a way that grabs people’s attentions and forces them to hear the things that you’re actually saying.
A poem might be defined as thinking about feelings – about human feelings and frailties.
My father, Eric Trethewey, is a poet, so I had one right inside the house. And on long trips, he’d tell me, if I got bored in the car, to write a poem about it. And I did find that poetry was a way for me, I think as it for a lot of people, to articulate those things that seem hardest to say.
Love is poetry. To fall in love with a person is like understanding a deep, moving poem. Noticing every little detail. To see what the poet shows, to smell what he describes and the urge to taste the intangible.
History is a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man.
I consider a poem to be a kind of experiment where a number of elements are brought together under test conditions to see how they will interact to create meaning or relevance.
If a poem is each time new, then it is necessarily an act of discovery, a chance taken, a chance that may lead to fulfillment or disaster.
The most exciting thing is to read a poem out loud for the first time.
Humor, for me, is really a gate of departure. It’s a way of enticing a reader into a poem so that less funny things can take place later. It really is not an end in itself, but a means to an end.
When I have worries, fears or a love affair, I have the luck of being able to transform it into a poem.
My best days do seem like a distillation of all that was best about school. Write a story! Paint a picture! Write a poem! Make a print!
‘Two Voices,’ from my album with Peter Schwalm, is an intact dream-poem. I awoke one night with an image of a piece of paper and all the words of the poem written on it, so I just blundered down to the kitchen table and ‘copied it out.’
I always tell students that writing a poem and publishing it are two quite separate things, and you should write what you have to write, and if you’re afraid it’s going to upset someone, don’t publish it.
The beautiful feeling after writing a poem is on the whole better even than after sex, and that’s saying a lot.
That is the best instruction you could ever give a poet: whether you’re examining a bad line in a poem or a bad motive for action, keep well your repining – meaning, don’t ignore the honest muttering in your head.
Every now and then I read a poem that does touch something in me, but I never turn to poetry for solace or pleasure in the way that I throw myself into prose.
Sometimes you have a poem that you really want to write and it never happens.
I see the poem or the novel ending with an open door.
Rhyme is a mnemonic device, an aid to the memory. And some poems are themselves mnemonics, that is to say, the whole purpose of the poem is to enable us to remember some information.
There’s something about the shape that a poem takes in my mind before I write it that has to do with suddenness.
Only truthful hands write true poems. I cannot see any basic difference between a handshake and a poem.
Is there any purpose to translating poetry? A poem does not contain information of importance, like a signpost or a warning notice.
A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.
When somebody’s in love with you, they think it’s amazing you’ve written them a poem, and when they don’t love you anymore, they hate those poems. They wish those poems would go away.
The Odyssey is, indeed, one of the greatest of all stories, it is the original romance of the West; but the Iliad, though a magnificent poem, is not much of a story.
Again like Williams, with the emphasis now regrettable, when a man makes a poem, makes it mind you, he takes the words as he finds them lying interrelated about him.
What is the poem, after it is written? That is the question. Not where it came from or why.
I find purer philosophy in a Poem than in a Conclusion of Geometry, a chemical analysis, or a physical law.
Like the sand and the oyster, it’s a creative irritant. In each poem, I’m trying to reveal a truth, so it can’t have a fictional beginning.
The first poem I ever wrote, about loss, when I was 5 years old, expressed the themes of everything I would ever write.
What is the point of teaching how to analyse a poem or a piece of Shakespeare but not to analyse the Internet?
People are so used to reading novels now, they just read a poem straight through to get the meaning. And that’s something totally different from the slow way you read something if it’s a tune; which to me a poem has to be.
I’ve never read a political poem that’s accomplished anything. Poetry makes things happen, but rarely what the poet wants.
The fact that The Bridge contains folk lore and other material suitable to the epic form need not therefore prove its failure as a long lyric poem, with interrelated sections.
What inspires a poem for me is usually a moment.
I believe that poems are a score for performance by the reader, and that you become the speaking voice. You don’t read or overhear the voice in the poem – you are the voice in the poem.
I was actually a poetry major in college before I punted and decided to become a theater major. I wrote the poem that we put on the sauerkraut boxes in the style of Elling.
The heart of the matter seems to me to be the direct interaction between one’s making a poem in English and a poem in the language that one understands and values. I don’t see how you can do it otherwise.
The idea of a poem as a message in a bottle means that it’s sent out towards some future reader, and the reader who opens that bottle becomes the addressee of the literary text.
Back then, I couldn’t have left a poem a year and gone back to it.
To me, a poem that’s in rhyme and meter is the difference between watching a film in full color and watching a film in black and white. Not that a few black and white films aren’t wonderful. So are certain successful pieces of free verse.
Knowing some Greek helped defuse forbidding words – not that I counted much on using them. You’ll find only trace elements of this language in the poem.
I don’t see that a single line can constitute a stanza, although it can constitute a whole poem.
The difference between ‘lighght’ and another type of poem with more words is that it doesn’t have a reading process. Even a five-word poem has a beginning, middle, and end. A one-word poem doesn’t. You can see it all at once. It’s instant.
I write some country music. There’s a song called ‘I Hope You Dance.’ Incredible. I was going to write that poem; somebody beat me to it.
I wrote two poems about the ’81 uprisings: ‘Di Great Insohreckshan’ and ‘Mekin Histri.’ I wrote those two poems from the perspective of those who had taken part in the Brixton riots. The tone of the poem is celebratory because I wanted to capture the mood of exhilaration felt by black people at the time.
I thought I’d begin by reading a poem by Shakespeare, but then I thought, why should I? He never reads any of mine.
I started out in graduate school to be a fiction writer. I thought I wanted to write short stories. I started writing poems at that point only because a friend of mine dared me to write a poem. And I took the dare because I was convinced that I couldn’t write a good poem… And then it actually wasn’t so bad.
There is something about a bureaucrat that does not like a poem.
I love to compare different time frames. Poetry can evoke the time of the subject. By a very careful choice of words you can evoke an era, completely throw the poem into a different time scale.
A banal poem is never more than a banal poem. A banal or trite lyric, however, can be – with the right vocal cords – brilliantly and shatteringly conveyed.
In my world, history comes down to language and art. No one cares much about what battles were fought, who won them and who lost them – unless there is a painting, a play, a song or a poem that speaks of the event.
The experiment of poetry, as far as I am concerned, happens when the poem carries you beyond where you could have reasonably expected to go.
I got $30 from Nation magazine for a poem and $500 for my first book of poems.
‘Love’ is so short of perfect rhymes that convention allows half-rhymes like ‘move.’ The alternative is a plague of doves, or a kind of poem in which the poet addresses his adored both as ‘love’ and as ‘guv’ – a perfectly decent solution once, but only once, in a while.