quotations about poetry
Poetry is an orphan of silence.
CHARLES SIMIC, attributed, Stealing Glimpses: Of Poetry, Poets, and Things in Between
There is the view that poetry should improve your life. I think people confuse it with the Salvation Army.
JOHN ASHBERY, International Herald Tribune, October 2, 1989
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.
JAMES FENTON, The New Yorker, July 25, 1994
Everybody can write poetry, just like everybody knows how to make love.
GAO XINGJIAN, The Other Shore
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
PABLO NERUDA, "Tonight I Can Write"
Poetry cannot afford to lose its fundamentally self-delighting inventiveness, its joy in being a process of language as well as a representation of things in the world.
SEAMUS HEANEY, The Redress of Poetry
Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat.
ROBERT FROST, attributed, Robert Frost: The Trial by Existence
What's poetry? It's not real but maybe it's more than real. It's dreaming while you're awake.
CARYL CHURCHILL, A Dream Play
If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry.
EMILY DICKINSON, letter to T. W. Higginson, c. 1870
Poetry, indeed, has always been one of humanity's sharpest tools for puncturing the shrink-wrap of silence and oppression.
MARIA POPOVA, "Poetry as Protest and Sanctuary", brainpickings, April 18, 2017
And then there is, of course, always, and inevitably, this spume of poetry that's just blowing out of the sulphurous flue-holes of the earth. Just masses of poetry. It's unstoppable, it's uncorkable. There's no way to make it end. If we could just--just stop. For one year. If everybody could stop publishing their poems. No more. Stop it. Just--everyone. Every poet. Just stop. But of course that's totally unfair to the poets who are just starting out.
NICHOLSON BAKER, The Anthologist
Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind.
MAXWELL BODENHEIM, attributed, An Introduction to Poetry and Criticism
I can't think of a case where poems changed the world, but what they do is they change people's understanding of what's going on in the world.
SEAMUS HEANEY, This Week, April 15, 2004
Nobody, I think, ought to read poetry, or look at pictures or statues, who cannot find a great deal more in them than the poet or artist has actually expressed.
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, The Marble Faun
There is no true poet in whom fancy is not close akin to faith.
JOHN C. BAILEY, The Claims of French Poetry
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.
ROBERT PENN WARREN, Saturday Review, March 22, 1958
I'm a poet. And then I put the poetry in the drama. I put it in short stories, and I put it in the plays. Poetry's poetry. It doesn't have to be called a poem, you know.
TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, The Paris Review, fall 1981
One of the current great problems in the world is fundamentalism of every kind -- political, spiritual -- and poetry is an antidote to fundamentalism. Poetry is about the clarities that you find when you don't simplify. Poetry is about complexity, nuance, subtlety. Poems also create larger fields of possibility. The imagination is limitless, so even when a person is confronted with an unchangeable outer circumstance, one thing poems give you is the sense that there's always, still, a changeability, a malleability, of inner circumstance. That's the beginning of freedom.
JANE HIRSHFIELD, "How can poems transform the world? A chat with poet Jane Hirshfield.", Washington Post, May 13, 2015
True poetry is a function of awakening. It awakens us, but it must retain the memory of previous dreams.
GASTON BACHELARD, introduction, Water and Dreams
Poetry is one of the destinies of speech.
GASTON BACHELARD, The Poetics of Reverie: Childhood, Language, and the Cosmos