07 October 2009

Cheeky Quote Day! 7 October 2009

From Denny:
Sometimes, writing poetry feels like running full speed down the rabbit hole. It might account for why so many poets tend toward the morose: Whiners' Poetry. While I was researching funny quotes for this Cheeky Quote Day I was surprised at how few poets have much of a sense of humor. Can I tell you I did a lot of editing? Notably, some of my favorite poets like Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde and Carl Sandburg were brimming over with sarcastic funny one-liners.

It's OK to whine every now and then - but we writers need to keep in mind the well-being of the reader. Drowning in sadness rarely is a help to others. Defensive poets counter with they are only writing for themselves. Fine, then don't publish it; keep it to yourself. "Verses which do not teach men new and moving truths do not deserve to be read." - Voltaire. (A high standard but certainly worthy of a challenge to the writer; it only makes you a better writer.) When you write to publish, you establish a connection with your readers and owe them a valuable read. That is what builds community, you and the reader together.

There is this perception today that to write good poetry it has to be sad and mournful or ridiculously silly like for a children's rhyme. The best poets throughout history often struck a chord in the middle ground for the exploration of serious social issues and the human condition.

Serious subjects can reflect the sad, the intellectually indignant or the morally obscene perspective. It's also important to offer more to your reader. When you write think of different angles of the problem and wonder aloud about different solutions.

Many a poet has inspired world leaders to reconsider a policy position or expand their belief system. Many of our American Presidents have been strongly influenced by their favorite poets. "When power narrows the areas of a man's concerns, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence." - President John F.Kennedy

As you explore how to write your own poetry, consider challenging and expanding your own belief system. "Be the change in the world you wish to see." - Gandhi

Here's the best of what I gleaned for you to enjoy!

Photo of e. e. cummings blue bench - click on the Photo Credits link for more information and the poem written on the bench enlarged to read.


* I could no more define poetry than a terrier can define a rat. - A. E. Housman

* I gave up on new poetry myself thirty years ago, when most of it began to read like coded messages passing between lonely aliens on a hostile world. - Russell Baker

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

* If Galileo had said in verse that the world moved, the Inquisition might have let him alone. - Thomas Hardy

* A poet is a man who puts up a ladder to a star and climbs it while playing a violin. - Edmond de Goncourt

A few cheeky poems:

Browsing the dim back corner
Of a musty antique shop
Opened an old book of poetry
Angels flew out from the pages
I caught the whiff of a soul
The ink seemed fresh as today
Was that voices whispering?
The tree of the paper still grows. - Pixie Foudre

If conditions aren't right
The poem won't come out
It will sit inside and stew
And emerge a different beast. - Ed Northstrum

Breathe-in experience,
breathe-out poetry. - Muriel Rukeyser

There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry. - Mark Strand, "Eating Poetry," Reasons for Moving, 1968


* You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some of it with you. – Joseph Joubert

* Science is for those who learn; poetry, for those who know. - Joseph Roux, Meditations of a Parish Priest

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

* The worst fate of a poet is to be admired without being understood. - Jean Cocteau, Le Rappel รก l'ordre, 1926

* A poet's autobiography is his poetry. Anything else is just a footnote. - Yevgeny Yentushenko, The Sole Survivor, 1982

* Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things. - Robert Frost

* Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting. - Robert Frost

* A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman. - Wallace Stevens, Opus Posthumous, 1957

* A sold poem loses half its meaning. - Glade Byron Addams

* 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, Tradition and the Individual Talent, 1919

* I would as soon write free verse as play tennis with the net down. - Robert Frost, 1935

* Poetry is not a civilizer, rather the reverse, for great poetry appeals to the most primitive instincts. - Robinson Jeffers

* When you read and understand a poem, comprehending its rich and formal meanings, then you master chaos a little. - Stephen Spender

* Poets are like magicians, searching for magical phrases to pull rabbits out of people's souls. - Glade Byron Addams

* It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it. - W.H. Auden

* To be a poet is a condition, not a profession. – Robert Frost

* No poems can please for long or live that are written by water-drinkers. - Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), Satires

* A poet dares be just so clear and no clearer.... He unzips the veil from beauty, but does not remove it. A poet utterly clear is a trifle glaring. - E.B. White

* Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. - G.K. Chesterton

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

* I've written some poetry I don't understand myself. - Carl Sandburg

* Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes. - Carl Sandburg

* A poet can survive everything but a misprint. - Oscar Wilde

* Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. - Percy Byshe Shelley

This photo has a great story from the photographer too, click on the Photo Credits link to read.

* The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth. - Jean Cocteau

* Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose-petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo. - Don Marquis

* Not everyone who drinks is a poet. Some of us drink because we're not poets. - Dudley Moore

* Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason. - Novalis

* Poets are literal-minded men who will squeeze a word till it hurts. - Archibald MacLeish

* Poets, we know, are terribly sensitive people, and in my observation one of the things they are most sensitive about is money. - Robert Penn Warren

* The phone rings and I curse. Literary editor. Seasonal verse. - Wendy Cope

* There is the view that poetry should improve your life. I think people confuse it with the Salvation Army. - John Ashbery

* To have great poets, there must be great audiences too. - Walt Whitman

* Written poetry is worth reading once, and then should be destroyed. Let the dead poets make way for others. Then we might even come to see that it is our veneration for what has already been created, however beautiful and valid it may be, that petrifies us. - Antonin Artaud

* You don't have to suffer to be a poet; adolescence is enough suffering for anyone. - John Ciardi

* Poetry is what gets lost in translation. - Robert Frost

* 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 Considered

* Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry. - W.B. Yeats

And let the voices from our ancient world history have the last words:

* Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history. - Plato

* The distinction between historian and poet is not in the one writing prose and the other verse... the one describes the thing that has been, and the other a kind of thing that might be. Hence poetry is something more philosophic and of graver import than history, since its statements are of the nature rather of universals, whereas those of history are singulars. - Aristotle, On Poetics


Photo Credits

Photo of spiraling downward staircase - no attibution

Photo of e. e. cummings blue bench by Tony the Misfit @ flickr
Silent Dreams fog photo by Sudhamshu @ flickr

Poetry sign photo by jurvetson @ flickr

Photo of spiral hand, Fibonacci sequence, the Golden Mean by Use your Hands @ flickr
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