Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday Muse: Poets on Writing

This is the first in an occasional series in which I share interesting perspectives on writing and craft  or memorable quotes from poets.

T.S. Eliot on "unfinished poems":

. . . As a rule, with me an unfinished thing is a thing that might as well be rubbed out. It's better, if there's something good in it that I might make use elsewhere, to leave it at the back of my mind than on paper in a drawer. If I leave it in a drawer it remains the same thing but if it's in the memory it becomes transformed into something else. . . . ("T.S. Eliot, The Art of Poetry No. 1", The Paris Review, Spring/Summer 1959, No. 21) 

Ezra Pound on a poet's "needed qualities":

I don't know that you can put the needed qualities in hierarchic order, but he must have a continuous curiosity. . . And the question of doing anything about it depends on persistent energy. . . . ("Ezra Pound, The Art of Poetry No. 5", The Paris Review, Summer/Fall 1962, No. 28)

Note: See at Open Letters Monthly Luciano Mangiafico's interesting essay "Attainted: The Life and Afterlife of Ezra Pound in Italy".

Robert Bly on sound in poetry:

Wallace Stevens says something like, A poem should almost successfully escape the intellect. Only music can do that. So that if the poem has no genius in sound, the practical intellect will imprison it, so to speak, in a box and show it to visitors. ("Robert Bly, The Art of Poetry No. 79", The Paris Review, Spring 2000, No. 154)

Natasha Trethewey on poetry's meaning for her:

I think poetry's always a kind a faith. It is the kind that I have. It is what can offer solace and meaning but also . . . allows me to understand these events. ("Poet Laureate: 'Poetry's Always a Kind of Faith'", NPR, June 8, 2012)

Natalie Diaz on "truth" in poetry:

. . . for me, poetry allows me to kind of break down images and kind of see what they're made of. And so I'm able to reinvent images and colors and sounds, and . . . all of the senses kind of come together to give you a more truthful picture of what's happening. ("On a Mission for Preservation, Poet Natalie Diza Returns to Her Roots", PBS NewsHour, June 20, 2012)

Naomi Shihab Nye on advice she'd give to young writers just starting out:

. . . Read, Read, and then Read some more. Always Read. Find the voices that speak most to YOU. This is your pleasure and blessing, as well as responsibility!
. . . make [your] own writing circle — friends, either close or far, with whom you trade work and discuss it — as a kind of support system, place-of-conversation and energy. Find those people, even a few, with whom you can share and discuss your works — then do it. Keep the papers flowing among you. . . Share the names of books that have nourished you. . . Let that circle be sustenance.
. . . Attend all the readings you can, and get involved in giving some, if you like to do that. Be part of your own writing community. . . . (Rachel Barenblat, "Interview with Naomi Shihab Nye", Pif Magazine, August 1, 1999)


nance said...

I think that this post has been very helpful. I like it a lot. Thank, Maureen.


S. Etole said...

Some really great thoughts that you have shared here.