poetry-la

i was going to write this blog post about how we re-create the fissures in our brains based off of how we use our brains. i.e. to learn something new we actually alter the PHYSICAL structure of our brains, so yup, it’ll take time, which is what i’m learning a lot this summer whether it’s learning new things (like the guitar, piano, and character-based fiction) or getting rid of old bad habits (like self-hate, lack of trust, and severe insecurity) – a little bit spurred by reading this new york times article this week –“What Is It About 20-Somethings?”

but then found this fantastic huge compiling of quotes re: definitions of poetry online — which could be better in the diversity realm, but still valuable, i think. me personally i liked what “larry” had to say, and i of course added my own quote to the bottom of the list, lol :)

other random thoughts this week before launching into mega-quote list — THANK YOU CYI :) fabulous performance this weekend at their youth event – big shout-out to LING for organizing. really excellent moving earth productions llc retreat this weekend — much love to my DIVAS doreen and jill. excited to start recording my second album today, so keep a look out for that :) and also, if you’re in nyc this weekend — come on out to the equasian arts party, which will be lots of poetry, music, food, psa’s, free hiv screening and resources for queer youth — 4-7 PM at the lgbt center — info here.

and now proceeds the mega-list of poetry is quotes…

One demands two things of a poem. Firstly, it must be a well-made verbal object that does honor to the language in which it is written. Secondly, it must say something significant about a reality common to us all, but perceived from a unique perspective. What the poet says has never been said before, but, once he has said it, his readers recognize its validity for themselves.
- W. H. Auden

Poetry is what gets lost in translation.
- Robert Frost

Poetry lies its way to truth.
- John Ciardi

Poetry is the deification of reality.
- Edith Sitwell

Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power.
- Paul Engle

The language beneath the language: This is poetry.
- Andrea Pacione

Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley

Poetry is not the record of an event: it is an event.
- Robert Lowell

Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is a speaking picture.
- Simonides

A poem should not mean but be.
- Archibald MacLeish

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.
- Robert Frost

If a poem is written well, it was written with the poet’s voice and for a voice. Reading a poem silently instead of saying a poem is like the difference between staring at sheet music and actually humming or playing the music on an instrument.
- Robert Pinsky

Poetry is the journal of the 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.
- Carl Sandburg

Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
- Leonard Cohen

We tend to be so bombarded with information, and we move so quickly, that there is a tendency to treat everything on the surface level and process things quickly. This is antithetical to the kind of openness and perception you have to have to be receptive to poetry.
- Rita Dove

Poetry is being, not doing.
- E.E. Cummings

In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it’s the exact opposite.
- Paul Dirac

Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand.
- Plato

Reality only reveals itself when it is illuminated by a ray of poetry.
- Georges Braque

Poetry gives you permission to feel.
- James Autry

Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his own.
- Salvatore Quasimodo

Poetry is an orphan of silence. The words never quite equal the experience behind them.
- Charles Simic

Of our conflicts with others we make rhetoric; of our conflicts with ourselves we make poetry.
- William Butler Yeats

Poetry is speech framed … to be heard for its own sake and interest even over and above its interest of meaning.
- Gerard Manley Hopkins

Not philosophy, after all, not humanity, just the sheer joyous power of song, is the primal thing in poetry.
- Max Beerbohm

No man was ever yet a great poet, without being at the same time a profound philosopher. For poetry is the blossom and the fragrancy of all human knowledge, human thoughts, human passions, emotions, language.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Poetry is like making a joke. If you get one word wrong at the end of a joke, you have lost the whole thing.
- W.S. Merwin

Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes.
- Carl Sandburg

Great poetry is always written by somebody straining to go beyond what he can do.
- Stephen Spender

We can only approach the gods through poetry.
- Thomas Moore

Poetry is all that is worth remembering in life.
- William Hazlitt

Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one’s soul, and does not startle it or amaze it with itself, but with its subject.
- John Keats

Poetry … should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.
- John Keats

Poetry, in the past, was the center of our society, but with modernity it has retreated to the outskirts. I think the exile of poetry is also the exile of the best of humankind.
- Octavio Paz

The gap between verse and poetry is enormous. Between good poetry and good prose the gap is much narrower.
- Michael Longley

A poem is an instant of lucidity in which the entire organism participates.
- Charles Simic

Poetry isn’t written from the idea down. It’s written from the phrase, line and stanza up, which is different from what your teacher taught you to do in school.
- Margaret Atwood

Poetry is a rich, full-bodied whistle, cracked ice crunching in pails, the night that numbs the leaf, the duel of two nightingales, the sweet pea that has run wild …
- Boris Pasternak

Poetry is a language pared down to its essentials.
- Ezra Pound

Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.
- Rita Dove

Poetry allows one to speak with a power that is not granted by our culture.
- Linda McCarriston

Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.
- Kahlil Gibran

Poetry begins in delight and ends in wisdom.
- Robert Frost

Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.
- Plato

As a tool of cognition, poetry beats any existing form of analysis (a) because it pares down our reality to its linguistic essentials, whose interplay, be it clash or fusion, yields epiphany or revelation, and (b) because it exploits the rhythmic and euphonic properties of the language that in themselves are revelatory.
- Joseph Brodsky

A poet’s object is not to tell what actually happened but what could or would happen either probably or inevitably …. For this reason poetry is something more scientific and serious than history, because poetry tends to give general truths while history gives particular facts.
- Aristotle

The crown of literature is poetry. It is its end and aim. It is the sublimest activity of the human mind. It is the achievement of beauty and delicacy. The writer of prose can only step aside when the poet passes.
- William Sumerset Maugham

What is a poem but a hazardous attempt at self-understanding? It is the deepest part of an autobiography.
- Robert Penn Warren

A poem is a construction of inner space. Language is to inner space as light is to material space.
- Sven Birkerts

Poetry is the suggestion, by the imagination, of noble grounds for noble emotions.
- John Rushkin

A poet’s work is to name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it from going to sleep.
- Salman Rushdie

Poetic language honors polarities. We use the language of poetry to provide the many levels of feeling, facets of knowing, simultaneously, so we can examine them and move forward.
- Peggy Osna Heller

Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.
- T.S. Eliot

Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.
- Edgar Allan Poe

There’s a sameness about American poetry that I don’t think represents the whole people. It represents a poetry of the moment, a poetry of evasion, and I have problems with this. I believe poetry has always been political, long before poets had to deal with the page and white space . . . it’s natural.
- Yusef Komunyakaa

You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some with you.
- Joubert

The joy of poetry is that it will wait for you. Novels don’t wait for you. Characters change. But poetry will wait.
- Sonia Sanchez

I think many people (like myself) prefer to read poetry mixed with prose; it gives you more to go by; the conventions of poetry have been getting far off from normal life, so that to have a prose bridge makes reading poetry seem more natural.
- William Empson

Poetry is either something that lives like fire inside you – like music to the musician . . . or else it is nothing, an empty, formalised bore around which pedants can endlessly drone their notes and explanations.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement.
- Christopher Fry

A good poem tells us a truth about the world; a bad poem tells us a truth about the author.
- Larry

Poetry is of so subtle a spirit, that in the pouring out of one language into another it will evaporate.
- John Denham

A poet is a man who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times.
- Randall Jarell

Here undoubtedly lies the chief poetic energy: the force of imagination that pierces or exalts the solid fact, instead of floating among cloud-pictures.
- George Eliot

When it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images.
- Niels Bohr

The nonmimetic character of language is thus, in a certain way, the opportunity and the condition for poetry to exist. Poetry exists only to “renumerate” in other words, to repair and compensate for the “defect of languages.”
- Gerard Genette

As to the pure mind all things are pure, so to the poetic mind all things are poetical.
- Henry W. Longfellow

Poetry is the music of the soul, and, above all, of great and feeling souls.
- Voltaire

Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them.
- Dennis Gabor

I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry.
- John Cage

Contemporary poetry … tries to transform the sign back into meaning: its ideal, ultimately, would be to reach not the meaning of words, but the meaning of things themselves. This is why it clouds the language, increases as much as it can the abstractness of the concept and the arbitrariness of the sign and stretches to the limit the link between signifier and signified.
- Barthes

I write first drafts with only the good angel on my shoulder, the voice that approves of everything I write. This voice doesn’t ask questions like, Is this good? Is this a poem? Are you a poet? I keep this voice at a distance, letting only the good angel whisper to me: Trust yourself. You can’t worry a poem into existence.
- Georgia Heard

A poem is energy transferred from where the poet got it, by way of the poem itself, all the way over to the reader.
- Charles Olson

A poem is a verbal artifact which must be as skillfully and solidly constructed as a table or a motorcycle.
- W. H. Auden

Poetry, even when apparently most fantastic, is always a revolt against artifice, a revolt, in a sense, against actuality.
- James Joyce

Poetry is … the physical enactment of a process of knowing by means of language.
- Mark Doty

Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.
- Percy Shelley

You arrive at truth through poetry; I arrive at poetry through truth.
- Joubert

It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things.
- Stephen Mallarme

I never find words right away. Poems for me always begin with images and rhythms, shapes, feelings, forms, dances in the back of my mind.
- Gary Snyder

Poetry presents the thing in order to convey the feeling. It should be precise about the thing and reticent about the feeling, for as soon as the mind responds and connects with the thing the feeling shows in the words.
- Wei T’ai

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.
- T.S. Eliot

Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild.
- Denis Diderot

Poetry proceeds from the totality of man, sense, imagination, intellect, love, desire, instinct, blood and spirit together.
- Jacques Maritain

I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.
- Robert Frost

The writing of a poem is like a child throwing stones into a mineshaft. You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation.
- James Fenton

Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.
- Carl Sandburg

Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.
- Paul Engle

Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people.
- Adrian Mitchell

No good poem, however confessional it may be, is just self-expression. Who on earth would claim that the pearl expresses the oyster.
- C. Day Lewis

By making us stop for a moment, poetry gives us an opportunity to think about ourselves as human beings on this planet and what we mean to each other.
- Rita Dove

Poetry amounts to arranging words with the greatest specific gravity in the most effective and externally inevitable sequence.
- Joseph Brodsky

Poetry is a shuffling of boxes buckled with a strap of facts.–Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a prayer which – in the process of being written – answers itself. — Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

Leave a comment