Quotations for National Poetry Month

It’s April! Which means that it’s National Poetry Month here in the U.S. (and in Canada, too). To honor the occasion, I’m republishing here a quotation-laden piece from the current (April 2008) issue of The Practicing Writer newsletter. Enjoy, and please feel free to add your own favorite quotations on poets and poetry in comments.


Collected by Erika Dreifus

Awhile back one of our subscribers suggested in an e-mail that I include a writing-related quotation in each newsletter. I liked the idea, but somehow have never put it into practice.

This month, I’ll make up for the absence of such quotations–sort of. I’m not about to include as many quotations as we’ve had issues, but I will give you an even dozen to enjoy.

Whether they focus on the joys or frustrations of writing, publishing, or simply reading poetry, these quotations get me thinking. Hopefully they’ll do the same for you.

“It is a sad fact of 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 (1907-1973)

“The poet enjoys the incomparable privilege of being able to be himself and others, as he wishes.”–Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)

“Poetry is a matter of life, not just a matter of language.”–Lucille Clifton (b. 1936)

“Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat.”–Robert Frost (1874-1963)

“[Poetry] has the virtue of being able to say twice as much as prose in half the time, and the drawback, if you do not give it your full attention, of seeming to say half as much in twice the time.”–Christopher Fry

“Poetry is the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself. He who has a contempt for poetry, cannot have much respect for himself, or for anything else.”–William Hazlitt (1778-1830)

“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 (1795-1821)

“Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.”–Mary Oliver (b. 1935)

“I write poetry in order to live more fully.”–Judith Rodriguez (b. 1936)

“Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes.”–Joseph Roux (1834-1886)

“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 (b. 1947)

“A poet can survive everything but a misprint.”–Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Source: Bartleby.com