Quotes and Sayings about Poems



"If I wasn't writing poems I'd be washing my hands all the time."
- Sherman Alexie
(Related: Time, Poems, Writing)

"Besides the actual reading in class of many poems, I would suggest you do two things: first, while teaching everything you can and keeping free of it, teach that poetry is a mode of discourse that differs from logical exposition."
- A. R. Ammons
(Related: Poetry, Class, First, Poems, Reading, Teaching)

"Each poem in becoming generates the laws by which it is generated: extensions of the laws to other poems never completely take."
- A. R. Ammons
(Related: Laws, Poems)

"The ancient Greek oral poets all had this anxiety about the deficiencies of their memories and always began poems by praying to the Muse to help them remember."
- David Antin
(Related: Anxiety, Help, Memories, Poems, Poets)

"I didn't think about whether I was writing poems. I was thinking. And the more I was thinking, the more there was I didn't understand."
- David Antin
(Related: Poems, Thinking, Writing)

"I was very committed to the process of composing, working at poems, putting things together and taking them apart like some kind of experimental filmmaker."
- David Antin
(Related: Poems)

"I like poems you can tack all over with a hammer and there are no hollow places."
- John Ashbery
(Related: Poems)

"All I wanted to do was write - at the time, poems, and prose, too. I guess my ambition was simply to make money however I could to keep myself going in some modest way, and I didn't need much, I was unmarried at the time, no children."
- Paul Auster
(Related: Money, Time, Ambition, Children, Poems, Prose)

"Sometimes poetry is inspired by the conversation entered into by reading other poems."
- John Barton
(Related: Poetry, Conversation, Poems, Reading)

"To me many short poems read and write like beginnings that simply whet my appetite; I want to get over that."
- John Barton
(Related: Appetite, Beginnings, Poems, Want)

"I sometimes like to tinker with poems that have failed, ones that I have sent aside. Even years afterward, I will revisit them if there is something about them that I cannot give up on."
- John Barton
(Related: Poems, Will, Years)

"I would not say I chose to write long poems on a conscious level. The long poem has been a relative constant."
- John Barton
(Related: Poems)

"Most victims of my autobiographical verse are either far too polite, remarkably understanding unaware that I have written poems about them."
- John Barton
(Related: Poems, Understanding, Victims)

"Why does one always ask a writer why they stopped? I am sure everyone finds in any drawer a few dear poems."
- Peter Bichsel
(Related: Poems, Writer)

"Criticism starts - it has to start - with a real passion for reading. It can come in adolescence, even in your twenties, but you must fall in love with poems."
- Harold Bloom
(Related: Love, Adolescence, Criticism, Passion, Poems, Reading)

"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."
- Harold Bloom
(Related: Strength, Poems)

"What I'm fighting for now in my work... for an expression relevant to all manner of blacks, poems I could take into a tavern, into the street, into the halls of a housing project."
- Gwendolyn Brooks
(Related: Work, Expression, Fighting, Now, Poems, Project)

"Today the U.S. is farther from being nourished by poetry than it was a hundred years ago, when books of poems were best-sellers."
- James Broughton
(Related: Poetry, Being, Books, Poems, Today, Years)

"My earliest poems sing of the absolute necessity of allowing love to invade and pervade one's life. That can make the miracle happen in reality. Try it."
- James Broughton
(Related: Love, Life, Necessity, Poems, Reality)

"I consider my films to be poems that are all as personal as my writing and as hand-made."
- James Broughton
(Related: Poems, Writing)

"Only truthful hands write true poems. I cannot see any basic difference between a handshake and a poem."
- Paul Celan
(Related: Difference, Poems)

"Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about the things in my pocket. But I found it would be too long; and the age of the great epics is past."
- Gilbert K. Chesterton
(Related: Age, Past, Poems)

"If I were brave enough to say so, I'd like to think that I had written some poems that people are not going to forget."
- Peter Davison
(Related: People, Forget, Poems)

"The reason one writes poems is so that your poem will be remembered."
- Peter Davison
(Related: Poems, Reason, Will)

"I would like to be proud of having written some poems that will be remembered, but I will never know whether I will have any reason to be proud of that."
- Peter Davison
(Related: Poems, Reason, Will)

"I like poems that are little games."
- Peter Davison
(Related: Games, Poems)

"I like poems that are complex."
- Peter Davison
(Related: Poems)

"For instance, it's a little better now than it was two or three years ago, but something like 70% of the poems I receive seem to be written in the present indicative."
- Peter Davison
(Related: Now, Poems, Present, Years)

"Every so often I find some poems that are too good for the readers of The Atlantic because they are a little too involved with the nature of poetry, as such."
- Peter Davison
(Related: Nature, Poetry, Poems)

"I have also written some poems which have not been collected in a volume."
- Grazia Deledda
(Related: Poems)

"My favorite poets may not be your bread and butter. I have more favorite poems than favorite poets."
- Rita Dove
(Related: Favorite, May, Poems, Poets)

"It is commonly asserted and accepted that Paradise Lost is among the two or three greatest English poems; it may justly be taken as the type of supreme poetic achievement in our literature."
- John Drinkwater
(Related: Achievement, English, Paradise, Literature, May, Poems)

"I still read Donne, particularly his love poems."
- Carol Ann Duffy
(Related: Love, Poems)

"My first collection of poems was published by Bloodaxe Books, which was then a very new imprint."
- Helen Dunmore
(Related: Books, First, Poems)

"I have learned so much from working with other poets, travelling and reading with them, spending days discussing poems in progress. There is the sense that we are all, as writers, part of something which is more powerful than any of us."
- Helen Dunmore
(Related: Progress, Poems, Poets, Reading, Sense, Writers)

"However, I began to submit poems to British magazines, and some were accepted. It was a great moment to see my first poems published. It felt like entering a tradition."
- Helen Dunmore
(Related: First, Poems, Tradition)

"I've always thought my poems told stories."
- Douglas Dunn
(Related: Thought, Poems)

"It's easy to understand why the most beautiful poems about England in the spring were written by poets living in Italy at the time."
- Philip Dunne
(Related: Time, England, Italy, Living, Poems, Poets, Spring)

"Poems in a way are spells against death. They are milestones, to see where you were then from where you are now. To perpetuate your feelings, to establish them. If you have in any way touched the central heart of mankind's feelings, you'll survive."
- Richard Eberhart
(Related: Death, Feelings, Heart, Mankind, Now, Poems)

"By reason of weird translation, many such sets of instructions read like poems anyhow."
- Brian Ferneyhough
(Related: Poems, Reason)

"I admire Ginsberg as a poet, despite the fact that he seems not to know when he is being good and when he is bad. But he will last, or at least those poems will last."
- Leslie Fiedler
(Related: Being, Fact, Poems, Will)

"As a friendly one. I would still like to write concrete poems, but I can only do it sometimes."
- Ian Hamilton Finlay
(Related: Poems)

"There must of course be a relationship between translating and making poems of your own, but what it is I just don't know."
- Robert Fitzgerald
(Related: Poems)

"Of course the other and more serious way in which it all happens is that one finds in poems and language some quality one appropriates for oneself and wishes to reproduce."
- Robert Fitzgerald
(Related: Quality, Language, Poems, Wishes)

"We all write poems; it is simply that poets are the ones who write in words."
- John Fowles
(Related: Poems, Poets, Words)

"I was in Paris at an English-language bookstore. I picked up a volume of Dickinson's poetry. I came back to my hotel, read 2,000 of her poems and immediately began composing in my head. I wrote down the melodies even before I got to a piano."
- Gordon Getty
(Related: Poetry, English, Paris, Poems)

"I don't write poems and put them to music. Just let things flow."
- Martin Gore
(Related: Music, Poems)

"Well it is certainly the case that the poems - which were in fact published during Shakespeare's lifetime - are weird if they began or originated in this form, as I think they did, because the poems get out of control."
- Stephen Greenblatt
(Related: Control, Fact, Poems, Shakespeare)

"Ginsberg's Collected Poems contains a wonderful poem about making it with Neal Cassady."
- Thom Gunn
(Related: Poems)

"When I first started to write, I was aware of being queer, but I didn't write about it. Queer poems would probably not have been accepted by the editors I sent them to."
- Thom Gunn
(Related: Being, Editors, First, Poems)

"We tend to put poems into factions. And it restricts our reading."
- Thom Gunn
(Related: Poems, Reading)

"Many of my poems are not sexual."
- Thom Gunn
(Related: Poems)

"I was reading the poems of Rochester. Rochester made himself out to be bisexual, but I think that was only to shock. Most of his poetry is sexual, even pornographic."
- Thom Gunn
(Related: Poetry, Poems, Reading)

"I've been an inveterate reader of literary magazines since I was a teenager. There are always discoveries. You're sitting in your easy chair, reading; you realize you've read a story or a group of poems four times, and you know, Yes, I want to go farther with this writer."
- Marilyn Hacker
(Related: Literary, Poems, Reading, Want, Writer)

"Everyone thinks they're going to write one book of poems or one novel."
- Marilyn Hacker
(Related: Poems)

"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."
- Marilyn Hacker
(Related: Architecture, Moments, Poems)

"I learned to play guitar at a young age and converted poems and stuff that I had written to songs."
- Gregory Harrison
(Related: Age, Guitar, Play, Poems, Songs)

"I got $30 from Nation magazine for a poem and $500 for my first book of poems."
- Jim Harrison
(Related: First, Nation, Poems)

"I used to carry about with me a German map-case filled with poems."
- John C. Hawkes
(Related: Poems)

"No poems can please for long or live that are written by water drinkers."
- Horace
(Related: Poems, Water)

"My brother used to say that I wrote faster than he could read. He wrote two books - of poems - better than all mine put together."
- Laurence Housman
(Related: Brother, Books, Poems)

"On that other novels followed: but I still wrote fairy tales and dreamy poems of another world."
- Laurence Housman
(Related: Poems, World)

"I am a guest of the French language. My poems in French are born of my interaction with the French language, which is not the same as that of a French poet."
- Tahar Ben Jelloun
(Related: Guest, Language, Poems)

"I wrote those poems for myself, as a way of being a soldier here in this country. I didn't know the poems would travel. I didn't go to Lebanon until two years ago, but people told me that many Arabs had memorized these poems and translated them into Arabic."
- June Jordan
(Related: Travel, People, Being, Country, Poems, Years)

"You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing and dance, and write poems and suffer and understand, for all that is life."
- Jiddu Krishnamurti
(Related: Life, Dance, Poems)

"The poets, therefore, however much they adorned the gods in their poems, and amplified their exploits with the highest praises, yet very frequently confess that all things are held together and governed by one spirit or mind."
- Lactantius
(Related: Gods, Mind, Poems, Poets, Spirit)

"I can't understand these chaps who go round American universities explaining how they write poems: It's like going round explaining how you sleep with your wife."
- Philip Larkin
(Related: Wife, American, Sleep)

"I am a genius who has written poems that will survive with the best of Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Keats."
- Irving Layton
(Related: Genius, Poems, Shakespeare, Will)

"There'll always be working people in my poems because I grew up with them, and I am a poet of memory."
- Philip Levine
(Related: People, Memory, Poems)

"If I were assigned poems I suppose I'd write more of them but it is entirely voluntary and for the most part ignored in the market sense of the word so the language to me is most intimate, most important, most sublime and most satisfying when it gets done."
- Thomas Lynch
(Related: Language, Poems, Sense, Word)

"Poems seem to have a life of their own. They tell you when enough is enough."
- Thomas Lynch
(Related: Life, Poems)

"But you'd have a job to find many of my poems which would seem to be very influenced by a particular person."
- Norman MacCaig
(Related: Job, Poems)

"Well, the great thing for me about poetry is that in good poems the dislocation of words, that is to say, the distance between what they say they're saying and what they are actually saying is at its greatest."
- Harry Mathews
(Related: Poetry, Poems, Saying, Words)

"I'm terrified of switching the computer on because there are so many poems."
- Roger McGough
(Related: Computer, Poems)

"People can put their best poems straight onto the web."
- Roger McGough
(Related: People, Poems)

"I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music."
- Joan Miro
(Related: Music, Colors, Poems, Words)

"Southern poets are still writing narrative poems, poems in forms, dramatic poems."
- Robert Morgan
(Related: Poems, Poets, Writing)

"The Black Mountain poet I like most is the early Creeley. Those early poems seem very lyrical and very traditional, with a lot of voice and character."
- Robert Morgan
(Related: Character, Poems, Voice)

"We have a lot of long narrative poems written in the 20th century, but they're not very well known, and they're not read by very many people."
- Robert Morgan
(Related: People, Poems)

"The best books of our times have included the three mature volumes of Philip Larkin. They're very short books of poems, and very carefully arranged."
- Robert Morgan
(Related: Books, Poems)

"I love chapbooks. They're in some ways the ideal form in which to publish and read poems. You can read 19 poems in a way you can't sit down and read 60 to 70 pages of poems."
- Robert Morgan
(Related: Love, Poems)

"I seem to keep returning to my father in poems because his personality was so extreme, so driven. He did everything to excess."
- Robert Morgan
(Related: Father, Excess, Extreme, Personality, Poems)

"The notes I have made are not a diary in the ordinary sense, but partly lengthy records of my spiritual experiences, and partly poems in prose."
- Edvard Munch
(Related: Poems, Prose, Sense, Spiritual)

"I was writing notes, but not composing poems. The Hunter began to develop out of this fragmented process."
- George Murray
(Related: Poems, Writing)

"I've already written 300 space poems. But I look upon my ultimate form as being a poetic prose. When you read it, it appears to be prose, but within the prose you have embedded the techniques of poetry."
- Story Musgrave
(Related: Poetry, Being, Poems, Prose, Space)

"It may be said that poems are in one way like icebergs: only about a third of their bulk appears above the surface of the page."
- Howard Nemerov
(Related: May, Poems)

"I liked the kid who wrote me that he had to do a term paper on a modern poet and he was doing me because, though they say you have to read poems twice, he found he could handle mine in one try."
- Howard Nemerov
(Related: Poems)

"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."
- Howard Nemerov
(Related: Work, Thought, Poems, Years)

"It all has to do with art - writing, painting, things I've done for a long time but just never had enough time to pursue. I have poetry - things that are designed for songs, but they're always poems first."
- Jason Newsted
(Related: Art, Poetry, Time, First, Painting, Poems, Songs, Writing)

"Early on, if I was alone two three nights in a row, I'd start writing poems about suicide."
- Jack Nicholson
(Related: Poems, Suicide, Writing)

"My poems - I don't even like the sound of that, in a way. Not that anyone else wrote them. But we know that only people who are really close to us care about our personal experience."
- Sharon Olds
(Related: Experience, People, Care, Poems, Sound)

"Well, "The Wellspring" was written from 1983 to 1986. And it had a section in the beginning that was poems that began from others' experience."
- Sharon Olds
(Related: Experience, Beginning, Poems)

"Many poets write books. They'll tell you: Well, I've got my next book, but there are two poems I need to write, one about x, one about y. This is a wonder to me."
- Sharon Olds
(Related: Books, Poems, Poets, Wonder)

"As a child, what captivated me was reading the poems myself and realizing that there was a world without material substance which was nevertheless as alive as any other."
- Mary Oliver
(Related: Poems, Reading, World)

"Almost anything is too much. I am trying in my poems to have the reader be the experiencer. I do not want to be there. It is not even a walk we take together."
- Mary Oliver
(Related: Poems, Trying, Want)

"You don't help people in your poems. I've been trying to help people all my life - that's my trouble."
- Charles Olson
(Related: Life, People, Help, Poems, Trouble, Trying)

"A discrete series is a series of terms each of which is empirically derived, each one of which is empirically true. And this is the reason for the fragmentary character of those poems."
- George Oppen
(Related: Character, Poems, Reason)

"I started off in England and very few people knew I was Australian. I mean, the clues were in the poems, but they didn't read them very carefully, and so for years and years I was considered completely part of the English poetry scene."
- Peter Porter
(Related: Poetry, People, EnglEnglish, Poems, Years)

"In other words the pictures are in a kind of relationship with each other which is touching only at points rather than pictures being illustrations of poems or poems extrapolations of the pictures."
- Peter Porter
(Related: Being, Poems, Words)

"There's not too much difference between writing a picture book and writing a collection of a hundred poems or so, except that the bigger books take a lot longer to do."
- Jack Prelutsky
(Related: Books, Difference, Poems, Writing)

"I write the poems first, with only a few exceptions for odd reasons, where I'm given the illustration first."
- Jack Prelutsky
(Related: First, Poems)

"After I'd produced about two dozen pen and ink drawings, one evening I decided that they needed poems to accompany them. I still have no idea where that notion came from, but it took me about two hours to produce verses for these creatures."
- Jack Prelutsky
(Related: Idea, Evening, Pen, Poems)

"I invented animals and birds - I had about two dozen. After working on them for six months, I sat down and just for fun wrote two dozen poems to accompany the drawings. It was for no one to every see, but a friend sent me in to an editor."
- Jack Prelutsky
(Related: Friend, Animals, Birds, Fun, Months, Poems)

"'A collected poems' is either a gravestone or a testimonial to survival."
- Al Purdy
(Related: Survival, Poems)

"My readers at that time were still men of letters; but there had to be other people waiting to read my poems."
- Salvatore Quasimodo
(Related: Men, Time, People, Letters, Poems, Waiting)

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end."
- Gilda Radner
(Related: Beginning, End, Ending, Now, Poems)

"The few bad poems which occasionally are created during abstinence are of no great interest."
- Wilhelm Reich
(Related: Abstinence, Interest, Poems)

"Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems."
- Rainer Maria Rilke
(Related: Earth, Poems, Spring)

"The only difference between me and others is that they think they can change something with cute little poems, nice cards or embracing trees and being nice to little lapdogs."
- Henry Rollins
(Related: Change, Being, Cards, Cute, Difference, Poems, Trees)

"Our poems will have failed if our readers are not brought by them beyond the poems."
- Muriel Rukeyser
(Related: Poems, Will)

"In our period, they say there is free speech. They say there is no penalty for poets, There is no penalty for writing poems. They say this. This is the penalty."
- Muriel Rukeyser
(Related: Free speech, Poems, Poets, Writing)

"We read Robert Browning's poetry. Here we needed no guidance from the professor: the poems themselves were enough."
- Carl Sandburg
(Related: Poetry, Guidance, Poems)

"I wrote poems in my corner of the Brooks Street station. I sent them to two editors who rejected them right off. I read those letters of rejection years later and I agreed with those editors."
- Carl Sandburg
(Related: Brooks, Editors, Letters, Poems, Rejection, Right, Years)

"I also write poems, so that is something that I really enjoy."
- Billy Sherwood
(Related: Poems)

"On July 26, 1916, I announced to all my friends in America that from now on I resolved to write no more poems in the classical language, and to begin my experiments in writing poetry in the so-called vulgar tongue of the people."
- Hu Shih
(Related: Poetry, People, America, Friends, July, Language, Now, Poems, Tongue, Writing)

"My horizon on humanity is enlarged by reading the writers of poems, seeing a painting, listening to some music, some opera, which has nothing at all to do with a volatile human condition or struggle or whatever. It enriches me as a human being."
- Wole Soyinka
(Related: Music, Being, Humanity, Listening, Nothing, Opera, Painting, Poems, Reading, Struggle, Writers)

"I like Beethoven, especially the poems."
- Ringo Starr
(Related: Poems)

"I work very hard on all my poems, but most of the work consists of trying not to sound as if I had worked. I try to make them sound as natural as possible, but within a quite strict form, which to my ears has a lot to do with musical rhythm and sound."
- Anne Stevenson
(Related: Work, Poems, Sound, Trying)

"I play with language a great deal in my poems, and I enjoy that. I try to condense language, that is, I try to express complicated but I hope real emotions as simply as possible. But that doesn't mean the poems are simple, just that they are as truthful as I can make them."
- Anne Stevenson
(Related: Hope, Emotions, Language, Play, Poems)

"Each word bears its weight, so you have to read my poems quite slowly."
- Anne Stevenson
(Related: Poems, Weight, Word)

"My earlier poems were sadder than my poems are today, perhaps because I wrote them in confusion or when I was unhappy. But I am not a melancholy person, quite the contrary, no one enjoys laughing more than I do."
- Anne Stevenson
(Related: Confusion, Melancholy, Poems, Today)

"Yes, I do often write poems from the mind, but I hope I don't ignore feelings and emotions."
- Anne Stevenson
(Related: Feelings, Hope, Emotions, Mind, Poems)

"The number of people writing poems is vast, and their reasons for doing so are many, that much can be surmised from the stacks of submissions."
- Mark Strand
(Related: People, Poems, Writing)

"I tend to like poems that engage me - that is to say, which do not bore me."
- Mark Strand
(Related: Poems)

"And Robert Lowell, of course - in his poems, we're not located in his actual life. We're located more in the externals, in the journalistic facts of his life."
- Mark Strand
(Related: Life, Facts, Poems)

"A lot of young poets today, from what I've heard and experienced, can't get their heads past George W. Bush, and I've heard so many poems about this democracy and this era of politics that I'm kind of bored by it."
- Amber Tamblyn
(Related: Politics, Democracy, Past, Poems, Poets, Today)

"Don't be too harsh to these poems until they're typed. I always think typescript lends some sort of certainty: at least, if the things are bad then, they appear to be bad with conviction."
- Dylan Thomas
(Related: Conviction, Poems)

"These poems, with all their crudities, doubts, and confusions, are written for the love of Man and in praise of God, and I'd be a damn' fool if they weren't."
- Dylan Thomas
(Related: Love, God, Fool, Man, Poems, Praise)

"I went on all over the States, ranting poems to enthusiastic audiences that, the week before, had been equally enthusiastic about lectures on Railway Development or the Modern Turkish Essay."
- Dylan Thomas
(Related: Development, Audiences, Poems, states)

"My poems are almost all written as Diane. I don't have any problems with that, and if other women choose to identify with this, I think that's terrific."
- Diane Wakoski
(Related: Women, Poems, Problems)

"I think I'm a very good reader of poetry, but obviously, like everybody, I have a set of criteria for reading poems, and I'm not shy about presenting them, so if people ask for my critical response to a poem, I tell them what works and why, and what doesn't work and why."
- Diane Wakoski
(Related: Work, Poetry, People, Poems, Reading)

"I don't expect you'll hear me writing any poems to the greater glory of Ronald and Nancy Reagan."
- Robert Penn Warren
(Related: Glory, Poems, Writing)

"How do poems grow? They grow out of your life."
- Robert Penn Warren
(Related: Life, Poems)

"My poems were just kind of all over the place. They had no focus, no location, nothing. Kind of a series of images that could have been set anywhere. A lot of the poems were just exercises for myself."
- James Welch
(Related: Focus, Nothing, Poems)

"The title of the poems was The Only Bar in Dixon. We sent it out to The New Yorker on a fluke, and they took them and printed all three in the same issue."
- James Welch
(Related: Poems)

"I say that democracy can never prove itself beyond cavil, until it founds and luxuriantly grows its own forms of art, poems, schools, theology, displacing all that exists, or that has been produced anywhere in the past, under opposite influences."
- Walt Whitman
(Related: Art, Democracy, Past, Poems, Schools, Theology)

"I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman."
- Virginia Woolf
(Related: Poems, Woman)

"Indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman."
- Virginia Woolf
(Related: Poems, Woman)

"I don't know why Sinclair Lewis fell in love with me. He didn't get even the slightest response from me. But his letters were lovely. And the poems he wrote me were lovely. I used some of them in my book."
- Fay Wray
(Related: Love, Letters, Poems)