Thursday, April 30, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: Madeleine L'Engle (and an early Poem in my Pocket for Poetry Friday from Julie Larios)

(This post is also my Poetry Friday contribution. Happy early PF!)

Today's quote, the last of the month, comes from Madeleine L'Engle's book, Walking On Water. Here she's talking about the creative act, and she makes it clear before this excerpt that she's talking about all artists: the painters, the dancers, the musicians, the actors, the novelists, the poets . . .

"The artist, like the child, is a good believer. The depth and strength of the belief is reflected in the the work; if the artist does not believe, then no one else will; no amount of technique will make the responder see truth in something the artist knows to be phony."

Amen to that, and thank you all for indulging me in this month-long search for poetry quotes that embodied that "depth and strength of belief."  You can find all the quotes by clicking through my April archives in the sidebar, or by searching on the tag, Quotes. 

Today is also Poem in Your Pocket day, and I'm carrying Julie Larios's poem, What Bee Did. The wordplay in it delights me, and I'm glad to have it buzzing in my pocket. As I mentioned yesterday, I picked this poem before I realized that Julie had written it.  Julie is a regular participant in Poetry Fridays and blogs at The Drift Record, one of my favorite places to be inspired. The Madeleine L'Engle quote helps me understand why this poem works --- I believe in the Bee, in all his incarnations. And it doesn't hurt that I adore the line about belief in it. (You'll have to click through to find it.) 

The poem begins like this . . .

What Bee Did
by Julie Larios

Bee not only buzzed.
When swatted at, Bee deviled,
Bee smirched. And when fuddled,
like many of us, Bee labored, Bee reaved.
He behaved as well as any Bee can have.


This post marks the end of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Poetry Friday is hosted by Maya Ganesan at Allegro.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: Kay Ryan and Getting Ready for "Poem in your Pocket" Day

Tomorrow is Poem in Your Pocket day. I'm telling you now so you have time to seek out a poem and tuck it away. Here's the one I carried last year.

 This year, I have a new one, chosen from the Poem in Your Pocket anthology, put out by The Academy of American Poets, with a foreward from U.S. Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan. Here's what she says about a poem vs. money in your pocket:

"A poem in your pocket is different. The whole way it works is different. In a way, you can't spend a poem even if you want to. As opposed to money---which seems intent upon getting out of your pocket as though it were a feral animal---a poem settles in. When I say "pocket" here, I mean "mind." A poem settles into your mind." ---Kay Ryan

Tomorrow, I'll tell you which poem from the anthology I chose to carry.  But here's a wild moment of poetic serendipity:  When I read the poem, I didn't look at the poet's name until after I felt that ping! gonna choose THIS ONE moment. And then I realized I knew the poet! Until tomorrow. . . ready your poems and pockets . . .

P.S.  Poets. org has linked to several poems about pockets for PIYP Day, including one fabulous excerpt from my friend Liz's book, A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes.  Print it out and carry it if you want some happiness close at hand

This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Poetry quote of the Day: Favorite Poem Project

Today's quote comes from a young reader of poetry, responding to the E.E. Cummings poem,"somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond."

"I have read this poem so many times that the spine of the book is broken and always turns to its page. Today I gave that book away to the first person that I have ever truly and sincerely loved. I gave her the book because there is no gift I could give her that would be more honest. This poem has shaped who I am. It has been a long journey, but Cummings's poem set my heart on a course to find love, and I have arrived, only to truly understand the poem for the first time."

---Scott Nesbit, 18  (as quoted in Poems to Read, an anthology for the Favorite Poem Project.)


This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Poetry quote of the Day: Avivah Zornberg

Today's quote was not originally offered as a definition of poetry, but I'm taking the personal liberty of making it one.  And asking: do you have a quote that wasn't about poetry, per se, but works wonderfully when you put it in that light?

“Truth is shattered into a thousand pieces when God throws it down to earth.”

-from the blog, SOF Observed, which attributes this quote to "Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, citing a kernel of midrash from her new book, The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical Unconscious."

This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Poetry quote of the Day: Ted Hughes

“Because it is occasionally possible, just for brief moments, to find the words that will unlock the doors of all those many mansions inside the head and express something — perhaps not much, just something — of the crush of information that presses in on us from the way a crow flies over and the way a man walks and the look of a street and from what we did one day a dozen years ago. Words that will express something of the deep complexity that makes us precisely the way we are, from the momentary effect of the barometer to the force that created men distinct from trees. Something of the inaudible music that moves us along in our bodies from moment to moment like water in a river. Something of the spirit of the snowflake in the water of the river. Something of the duplicity and the relativity and the merely fleeting quality of all this. Something of the almighty importance of it and something of the utter meaninglessness. And when words can manage something of this, and manage it in a moment, of time, and in that same moment, make out of it all the vital signature of a human being — not of an atom, or of a geometrical diagram, or of a heap of lenses — but a human being, we call it poetry." ---Ted Hughes

Thanks to 7-Impossible Things Before Breakfast, who first posted this quote, and to Jules, who reminded me of it.

This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: Margaret Atwood

"It simply happened, suddenly, in 1956, while I was crossing the football field on the way home from school. I wrote a poem in my head and then I wrote it down, and after that writing was the only thing I wanted to do. I didn't know that this poem of mine wasn't at all good, and if I had known I probably wouldn't have cared. It wasn't the result but the experience that had hooked me: it was the electricity."


Oh, Margaret, I know just what you mean. I wrote about some of my bad high school poetry here, and as I said in that post, what I remember most is that feeling of "writing words that matched who I was inside, instead of for a school assignment . . . I felt heady with the discovery that all that messy stuff in my heart and my head could erupt onto the page as words. I've never forgotten or gotten over that moment."

This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Poetry Friday and Quote of the Day: Thorton Wilder and Mark Jarmon

Again, for Poetry Friday, I have both a quote and a poem.  I like the way these two resonate with each other.

From Thornton Wilder's play, Our Town

Emily:  Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it---every, every minute?

Stage Manager:  No--- The saints and poets, maybe--- They do some.


and via poetryfoundation. org

Dressing My Daughters

One girl a full head taller
Than the other—into their Sunday dresses.
First, the slip, hardly a piece of fabric,
Softly stitched and printed with a bud.
I’m not their mother, and tangle, then untangle
The whole cloth—on backwards, have to grab it
Round their necks. But they know how to pull
Arms in, a reflex of being dressed,
And also, a child’s faith. The mass of stuff
That makes the Sunday frocks collapses
In my hands and finds its shape, only because


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Lisa Chellman

This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: Muriel Rukeyser

"The 'idea' for the poem, which may come as an image thrown against memory, as a sound of words that sets off a traveling of sound and meaning, as a curve of emotion (a form) plotted by certain crises of events or image or sound, or as a title which evokes a sense of inner relations; this is the first 'surfacing' of the poem. Then a period of stillness may follow."
--- Muriel Rukeyser, from Creators on Creating, edited by Frank Barron, Alfonso Montuori, and Anthea Barron

This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: A. E. Housman

". ..  in common with the others, I received from America a request that I would define poetry. I replied that I could no more define poetry than a terrier can define a rat, but that I thought we both recognized the symptoms which it provokes in us."  
---A. E. Housman, from Creators on Creating, edited by Frank Barron, Alfonso Montuori, and Anthea Barron

This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: Frost via Sidman via The Miss Rumphius Effect

If you haven't been following the Poetry Makers series at The Miss Rumphius Effect this month, your life is the poorer for it. She has riches beyond belief---more than 30 scheduled interviews with major poets.

In her interviews, Tricia asks her visiting poets to name a favorite quote. Here's the one that Joyce Sidman shared. (If you haven't read Joyce's interview, go right now. And then read all the other interviews, too. It's okay. Your life can stop for a little while.)

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

This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: Rilke defends Rhyme

"Do not say anything against rhyme! It is a mighty goddess indeed, the deity of very secret and very ancient coincidences, and one must never let the fire on its altars burn out."
---Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Poet's Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rilke


This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: More Mary Oliver

Have you noticed that readers have been graciously leaving other fabulous poetry quotes in the comments for all of us to enjoy? Here's one that J. Patrick Lewis gifted me with several days ago when I first posted some words from Mary Oliver:

"Poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry." ---Mary Oliver

Isn't that lovely?

This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Poetry Friday: Jack Spicer


Photo from My Life Size Labyrinths

Poetry Quote of the Day:

"One ought, everyday at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if possible, speak a few reasonable words." - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Here's one good poem for the day.  I stumbled upon it, fell in love with the first line, and jumped right in.  Leave your "few reasonable (or unreasonable) words" in the comments.  

BTW, I've walked a labyrinth. Have you?


"Any fool can get into an ocean"

Any fool can get into an ocean
But it takes a Goddess
To get out of one.
What's true of oceans is true, of course,
Of labyrinths and poems. When you start swimming
Through riptide of rhythms and the metaphor's seaweed
You need to be a good swimmer or a born Goddess
To get back out of them
Look at the sea otters bobbing wildly
Out in the middle of the poem


For more chances to "hear a little song, read a good poem" and perhaps "speak a few reasonable words," visit the Poetry Friday roundup,  hosted today by Becky at blbooks.  

This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: Tommasco Ceva

In trying to bring you some poetry quotes you might not have heard before, I find myself dipping again into How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry

"Poetry is a dream dreamed in the presence of reason." ---attributed by Edward Hirsch to Jesuit poet Tommasco Ceva


This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: Oscar Wilde

I've posted several deep and serious quotes about poetry.  Today, I'm in the mood for Oscar Wilde.

"A poet can survive everything but a misprint." ~Oscar Wilde

What if Wordsworth had to suffer seeing:  "I wandered lonely as a clod"

Or Emily, this fumble:  "Because I could not stop for Death,  He kindly stopped for tea;"

Leave your fatal misprints in the comments. 


This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: Gustave Flaubert


Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that. Poetry is as precise as geometry. ~Gustave Flaubert


Photo: Juan Mele, 1946, courtesy of The Blanton Museum of Art


This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: Carl Sandburg

This may be my favorite quote yet.

"Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths . . .




 . . . and biscuits." ~Carl Sandburg



P.S. Happy Easter! I'll be greeting the day at sunrise.

This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: Stanley Kunitz and Genine Lentine

Poet Stanley Kunitz and his assistant, Genine Lentine, discuss the making of poetry:

GL: Intuitively that feels to me just the kind of place where revelation happens; you’re doing the dishes and your mind reaches a state of equanimity in the task

SK: and then you drop the dish and it shatters

GL: and it was a worthy sacrifice.

The whole conversation is here.

This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Poetry Friday (and Quote of the Day): Jane Hirshfield

A quote . . .
"It's a personal act which reaches outward to everyone because we're not alone. We live in a huge net and web of being, human and non-human and we have obligations towards it but the only way to fulfill them is by doing it from the inside. Not from the head, not from what we're told to do, but to discover for ourselves what needs doing and then start doing it."  ---Jane Hirshfield, as interviewed on Speaking Freely

and a poem . . .

A Hand
by Jane Hirshfield

A hand is not four fingers and a thumb. Nor is it palm and knuckles, not ligaments or the fat's yellow pillow, not tendons, star of the wristbone, meander of veins. A hand is not the thick thatch of its lines with their infinite dramas, nor what it has written, not on the page, not on the ecstatic body. Nor is the hand 


Poetry Friday is hosted today at Carol's Corner.
This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: William Meredith

"Whatever a poem is up to, it requires our trust along with our consent to let it try to change our way of thinking and feeling. Nothing without this risk. I expect hang gliding must be like poetry. Once you get used to it, you can't imagine not wanting the scare of it. But it's more serious than hang gliding. Poetry is the safest known mode of human risk. You risk only staying alive." 
---William Meredith, from Poems Are Hard to Read, excerpted at poets.org.


This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: Mary Oliver

"...poets have, in freedom and in prison, in health and in misery, with listeners and without listeners, spent their lives examining and glorifying life, meditation, thoughtulness, devoutness, and human love. They have done this wildly, serenely, rhetorically, lyrically, without hope of answer or reward. They have done this grudgingly, willingly, patiently, and in the steams of impatience.

They have done it for all and any of the gods of life, and the record of their so doing belongs to each one of us.

Including you."
 ---Mary Oliver, from her Rules for the Dance


This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: Robert Frost

"A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness." ---Robert Frost

More posts about Frost here.

This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wake up with...

Adam Rex! Julie Larios! Kelly Fineman! Elaine Magliaro! Douglas Florian! And a little poem of mine. All part of a burst of National Poetry Month art and poetry over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. 

Poetry Quote of the Day: Ted Kooser

Karen Edmisten left a quote from Poet Laureate Ted Kooser in the comments on Friday. Here it is:
"A poem is a record of a discovery."

Yes!  I did some digging, and I found that he also said:

"If I don't take the risk, I'll wind up with a bloodless poem. I have to be out there on the edge." He likens the process to the movie "Modern Times," where Charlie Chaplin roller skates on a department store balcony to impress a woman. "You have to run the risk of falling down into ladies ready to wear."  ---from the Christian Science Monitor

Part of me wishes he would fall down there, just so I could read his "record of a discovery."

This post is part of my Poetry Quote a Day series for National Poetry Month.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: Marianne Moore

One must make
a distinction
however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the
result is not poetry,
nor till the poets among us can be
"literalists of
the imagination"--above
insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, "imaginary gardens with real toads in them,"
shall we have
it.

 ~Marianne Moore

This post is part of my Poetry Quote of the Day series for National Poetry Month.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Poetry Friday: Edward Hirsch and Quotes of the Day

For National Poetry Month, I'm posting a poetry quote each day, but seeing as it's Poetry Friday, I have to up the stakes.

I give you this marvelous passages of quotes from Edward Hirsch's How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry. He is talking of metaphor, and shares this series of examples from other poets, finishing up with some zingers of his own.

"The poem is a capsule where we wrap up our punishable secrets (William Carlos Williams). A poem is a well-wrought urn (Cleanth Brooks), a verbal icon (W.K. Wimsatt). A poem is a walk (A.R. Ammons); a poem is a meteor (Wallace Stevens). A poem might be called a pseudo-person. Like a person it is unique and addresses the reader personally (W. H. Auden). A poem is a hand, a hook, a prayer. It is a soul in action."

Poetry Friday is hosted today by ayuddha.net

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Poetry Quote of the Day: C.S. Lewis

"Of course not all books are suitable for mealtime reading. It would be a kind of blasphemy to read poetry at table. What one wants is a gossipy, formless book which can be opened anywhere." ---C.S. Lewis

Or a Williams Sonoma catalog. 

What do you think? Does poetry need your full attention?


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sudden Flashes of Poetry

"To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful,
ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of
poetry." ~ Gaston Bachelard

Happy National Poetry Month

Jama has a lovely post today with a schedule of events and resources for the month.  Plus, CAKE!

As for me,  I'm able to give the blog only minimal attention for most of April, but I hate to miss a Poetry Party, so my contribution to the festivities will be 

 sharing a poetry quote each day


Help me stick with that, will you?