Posts in Poetry
Sharon Olds

“Poems come from ordinary experiences and objects, I think. Out of memory - a dress I lent my daughter on her way back to college; a newspaper photograph of war; a breast self-exam; the tooth fairy; Calvinist parents who beat up their children; a gesture of love; seeing oneself naked over age 50 in a set of bright hotel bathroom mirrors.”

—Sharon Olds

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Louise Glück

“I am attracted to ellipsis, to the unsaid, to suggestion, to eloquent, deliberate silence. The unsaid, for me, exerts great power: often I wish an entire poem could be made in this vocabulary. It is analogous to the unseen.”

—Louise Glück

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Mary Oliver

“Believe me, if anybody has a job and starts at 9, there's no reason why they can't get up at 4:30 or five and write for a couple of hours, and give their employers their second-best effort of the day - which is what I did.”

—Mary Oliver

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Kevin Young

“There's something about the kind of time travel that a poem can provide. It can take you to somewhere else - a culture far from you, a language far from you, but suddenly you're there. You're that person, seeing with that person's eyes. I think that's really tremendous. Even things like cinema or more traditional history can't quite do that.”

—Kevin Young

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Victoria Redel

“Once I determined that no one really gives a shit if I ever write another poem, and I recognized that pretty young, I hunkered down and made writing a regular practice. Nothing fancy. Just show up.”

—Victoria Redel

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Claudia Rankine

“I love revising things, because you see how you can get the language to get closer to intention. You know there are three ways to say X thing, but one will say it better than the other two. And in saying it better, it gets you closer to something.”

—Claudia Rankine

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Tony Hoagland

“So much of what I love about poetry lies in the vast possibilities of voice, the spectacular range of idiosyncratic flavors that can be embedded in a particular human voice reporting from the field. One beautiful axis of voice is the one that runs between vulnerability and detachment, between 'It hurts to be alive' and 'I can see a million miles from here.' A good poetic voice can do both at once.”

—Tony Hoagland

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Fernando Pessoa

“To write is to forget. Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life. Music soothes, the visual arts exhilarates, the performing arts (such as acting and dance) entertain. Literature, however, retreats from life by turning in into slumber. The other arts make no such retreat— some because they use visible and hence vital formulas, others because they live from human life itself. This isn’t the case with literature. Literature stimulates life. A novel is a story of what never was, a play is a novel without narration. A poem is the expression of ideas or feelings a language no one uses, because no one talks in verse.”

— FERNANDO PESSOA, THE BOOK OF DISQUIET

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Saul Bellow

“His mind took one of its odd jumps. He opened a clean page in his grimy notebook, and in the twig-divided shade of a wild cherry, infested with tent caterpillars, he began to make notes for a poem.”

— SAUL BELLOW, HERZOG

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