Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Poets on Poetry - some quotes

I'm slowly getting through Poets on Poetry, a collection of essays edited by Howard Neverov. Usually I find these type of books to be interesting, but I'm having a difficult time motivating myself to finish this one. I think the biggest problem I have is with the egos of some of the poets who wax so academically about their own work. As opposed to some of the poets who seem to be less-guarded, more open about their process.

Poetry is not magic, and it bothers me when poets allude with high mysticism about the way their poems come about. Okay, maybe for some poets it is very mystical and mysterious and they do have a difficult time talking about their poems because they don't want to just come out and say: Well, I start writing about a subject that interests me and keep writing to figure out why it interests me and why it might interest other folks.

Anyway, here are some of the quotes I found to be most enlightening so far:

Marianne Moore quotes Flaubert as saying "Describe a tree so no other tree could be mistaken for it." This is a wonderful adage to keep in mind when you really dig into a subject, to fully explore it.

John Brinnin says "Poets cannot save the world, but they can contribute to the civilizing process that might make the world more worthy of salvation."

Vassar Miller describes the disciplines of free verse by countering Frost, who "compared writing free verse to playing tennis without a net. I prefer the analogy of a spider weaving its web. A web does not grow any old way and neither does a free-verse poem."

Richard Wilbur also references Frost: "RobertFrost once said that a poem's beginning is like falling in love, and I feel about the matter as he did: when we fall in love, we are powerfully drawn by something, but we do not yet know what it means."

No comments: