Photo by Mary Christine Delea
Poetry is a natural filter through which I view the world, and it has always informed my other pursuits.
My parents shared their love of poetry and literature by reading to me every night when I was a child, or telling me stories from their head: memories from their own childhoods or made-up fairy tales and princess stories. They encouraged me to read at a very young age, and I loved outings to the library; I would always bring home as many books as possible. I also enjoyed making books.
Poetry is able to enter one’s subconscious in unexpected, visceral ways, to raise awareness and inspire social and political change.
Often, when heading out for the evening, my father and I would recite the opening stanzas of T.S. Eliot’s “Prufrock” from memory. This felt completely normal at the time, but I don’t think many families do this.
All poets, all writers are political. They either maintain the status quo, or they say, ’Something’s wrong, let’s change it for the better.’
Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
Georg Sand (Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin)
Let us accept truth, even when it surprises us and alters our views.
Art for art's sake is an empty phrase. Art for the sake of truth, art for the sake of the good and the beautiful, that is the faith I am searching for.
We cannot tear out a single page of our life, but we can throw the whole book in the fire.
Life resembles a novel more often than novels resemble life.
Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.
Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.
Caution is the enemy of vitality.
Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.
A single lifetime, even though entirely devoted to the sky, would not be enough for the study of so vast a subject. A time will come when our descendants will be amazed that we did not know things that are so plain to them.
Saints have no moderation, nor do poets, just exuberance.
It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.
We know what we are, but know not what we may be.
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.
I came to see that what constitutes strength is not just a muscle or will. It can also include the most desperate vulnerability, the saddest heartache, the lightest, sweetest laughter.
I do see the poet as someone whose role it is to push back against anti-intellectualism, anti-activism, and passivity in general. The purpose of this pushing back is to show that there are always infinite sides to a story, amazing unimagined perspectives on any narrative, and no limit to how weird and wild and unexpected our language and its meanings can get.
George Bernard Shaw
A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will.
Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of a void, but out of chaos; the materials must in the first place be afforded; it can give form to dark, shapeless substances, but cannot bring into being the substance itself.
The beginning is always today.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.
Poetry is indeed something divine. It is at once the centre and circumference of knowledge; it is that which comprehends all science, and that to which all science must be referred. It is at the same time the root and blossom of all other systems of thought; it is that from which all spring, and that which adorns all; and that which, if blighted, denies the fruit and the seed, and withholds from the barren world the nourishment and the succession of the scions of the tree of life. It is the perfect and consummate surface and bloom of all things; it is as the odor and the color of the rose to the texture of the elements which compose it, as the form and splendor of unfaded beauty to the secrets of anatomy and corruption.
Poetry, in a general sense, may be defined to be ‘the expression of the imagination’: and poetry is connate with the origin of man.
Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.
Life is a journey without a destination.
Both doors and windows are always a border between two spaces and when you pass through them you are in a different environment, in a different world. The other side always looks different, the outside differs from the inside.
A piece of art needs to connect. It needs to have some element of truth to it that resonates with the viewer and leaves them something after they’ve left the piece. A good piece asks questions and teaches you something you didn’t know or shows you something you didn’t know you knew.
Leslie Marmon Silko
You don't have anything if you don't have the stories.
When someone dies, you don't get over it by forgetting; you get over it by remembering, and you are aware that no person is ever truly lost or gone once they have been in our life and loved us, as we have loved them.
I write in order to find out what I truly know and how I really feel about certain things. Writing requires me to go much deeper into my thoughts and memories than conversation does. Writing provides the solitude necessary to reflect on being in this world.
I will tell you something about stories . . . They aren't just entertainment. Don't be fooled. They are all we have, you see, all we have to fight off illness and death.
But as long as you remember what you have seen, then nothing is gone. As long as you remember, it is part of this story we have together.
Time limits are fictional. Losing all sense of time is actually the way to reality. We use clocks and calendars for convenience sake, not because that kind of time is real.
Some things that help me write, that help new thoughts to form, and my inhibitions to drop: riding the bus, going to movies, reading James Baldwin.
Sun Yung Shin
Tell me the truth of the matter. When I don't understand, I will not protest or judge or correct, I will simply listen harder. I am here to recognize you as my fellow human being with a story.
The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.
Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.
What I’m saying is that no matter how famous you become as a poet you’re always vulnerable to rejections. I prefer to send my submissions by snail mail, so if I get rejected the rejection doesn’t pop out at me on the screen.
Poetry is the deification of reality.
I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.
Why not be oneself? That is the whole secret of a successful appearance. If one is a greyhound, why try to look like a Pekingese?
The poet speaks to all men of that other life of theirs that they have smothered and forgotten.
The world was hers for the reading.
I wrote about people who liked fake fireplaces in their parlor, who thought a brass horse with a clock embedded in its flank was wonderful.
Forgiveness is a gift of high value. Yet its cost is nothing.
Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.
A lie was something you told because you were mean or a coward.
A story was something you made up out of something that might have happened. Only you didn't tell it like it was, you told it like you thought it should have been.
It’s a feeling of happiness that knocks me clean out of adjectives. I think sometimes that the best reason for writing novels is to experience those four and a half hours after you write the final word.
Sometimes the hardest part isn't letting go but rather learning to start over
Interpretation is the revenge of the intellectual upon art.
The truth is always something that is told, not something that is known. If there were no speaking or writing, there would be no truth about anything. There would only be what is.
The only interesting answers are those that destroy the questions.
Intelligence is really a kind of taste: taste in ideas.
The past itself, as historical change continues to accelerate, has become the most surreal of subjects—making it possible . . . to see a new beauty in what is vanishing.
Books are funny little portable pieces of thought.
My idea of a writer: someone interested in everything.
To make your life being a writer, it’s an auto-slavery . . . you are both the slave and the task-master.
Whenever I travel, it’s always to say good-bye.
An artist's job is to articulate what might otherwise be incoherent.
Replace fear with curiosity.
I always thought the difference between men and women was pockets.
Some things were a whole lot harder when I was younger, because I knew less. Some things are harder now because I know all that other stuff but I don’t have “earlier” chops, the quick chops.
Just set one day’s work in front of the last day’s work. That’s the way it comes out. And that’s the only way it does.
A sad soul can kill quicker, far quicker, than a germ.
It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.
Many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased.
No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself.
Words can change their meanings right in front of you.
Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.
The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity.
In an age of disbelief . . . it is for the poet to supply the satisfactions of belief.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.
W. Clement Stone
Like success, failure is many things to many people. With a positive mental attitude, failure is a learning experience, a rung on the ladder, a plateau at which to get your thoughts in order and prepare to try again.
It’s such a lucky accident, having been born, that we’re almost obliged to pay attention.
I have no method for picking poems. I simply pick what pleases me. I am not concerned with truth, nor with conventional notions of what is beautiful. I tend to like poems that engage me—that is to say, which do not bore me. I like elaboration, but I am often taken by simplicity. Cadences move me, but flatness can also seduce. Sense, so long as it’s not too familiar, is a pleasure, but so is nonsense when shrewdly exploited. Clearly, I have no set notion about what a poem ought to be.
Writing is hard for every last one of us . . . Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.
People seldom see the halting and painful steps by which the most insignificant success is achieved.
Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose—not the one you began with perhaps, but one you'll be glad to remember.
May you live every day of your life.
Discovery consists of seeing what everyone has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems to the absurdity of not writing poems.