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

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

Related topics: Poetry

If we really want to be full and generous in spirit,
we have no choice but to trust at some level.
- Rita Dove

If they don't read, if they don't love reading;
if they don't find themselves compulsively reading,
I don't think they're really a writer.
- Rita Dove

The joy of working at something to find out what it
means to me is what I grew up with.
- Rita Dove

 

There are distinct duties of a poet laureate.
I plan a reading series at the Library of Congress
and advise the librarian.
The rest is how I want to promote poetry.
- Rita Dove

Going to the library was the one place we got to go
without asking for permission.
And they let us choose what we wanted to read.
It was a feeling of having a book be mine entirely.
- Rita Dove

Without imagination we can go nowhere.
And imagination is not restricted to the arts.
Every scientist I have met who has been a success has had to imagine.
- Rita Dove

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It's the combination of the intimate and the public
that I find so exciting about being poet laureate.
- Rita Dove

I loved to write when I was a child.
I wrote, but I always thought it was something that you did as a child,
then you put away childish things.
- Rita Dove

My father is a chemist, my mother was a homemaker.
My parents instilled in us the feeling that learning
was the most exciting thing that could happen to you,
and it never ends.
- Rita Dove

For many years, I thought a poem was a whisper overheard,
not an aria heard.
- Rita Dove

Instead of trying to come up and pontificate on what literature is,
you need to talk with children, to teachers,
and make sure they get poetry in the curriculum early.
- Rita Dove

I have a high guilt quotient.
A poem can go through as many as 50 or 60 drafts.
It can take from a day to two years-or longer.
- Rita Dove

Libraries are where it all begins.
- Rita Dove

Being Poet Laureate made me realize I was capable of a larger voice.
There is a more public utterance I can make as a poet.
- Rita Dove

It's unfortunate that sometimes in schools,
there's this need to have things quantified and graded.
- Rita Dove

I think reading Shakespeare's plays when I was young was extremely important.
He had the ability to make utter strangers come alive.
- Rita Dove

People write me from all over the country,
asking me, and sometimes even telling me,
what they think a poet laureate should do.
I found that immensely valuable.
- Rita Dove

You have to imagine it possible before you can see something.
You can have the evidence right in front of you,
but if you can't imagine something that has never existed before,
it's impossible.
- Rita Dove

Being true to yourself really means being true to all
the complexities of the human spirit.
- Rita Dove

I see a resurgence of interest in poetry.
I am less optimistic about the prospects for the arts
when it comes to federal funding.
- Rita Dove

I keep the drafts of each poem in color-coded folders.
I pick up the folders according to how I feel about that color that day.
- Rita Dove

I believe people may have a predisposition for artistic creativity.
It doesn't mean they're going to make it.
- Rita Dove

It really wasn't until I was in college when I began to write more and more,
and I realized I was scheduling my entire life around my writing.
- Rita Dove

I loved to read, but I always thought that the dream was too far away.
The person who had written the book was a god,
it wasn't a person.
- Rita Dove

Rap is only one end of a whole spectrum of verbal play and virtuosity.
Rap is geared for aural pleasure.
- Rita Dove

I thought, after the Pulitzer, at least nothing will
surprise me quite that much in my life.
And another one happened.
It was quite amazing.
- Rita Dove

The sound of the mandolin is a very curious sound because
it's cheerful and melancholy at the same time,
and I think it comes from that shadow string,
the double strings.
- Rita Dove

My favorite poets may not be your bread and butter.
I have more favorite poems than favorite poets.
- Rita Dove

I prefer to explore the most intimate moments,
the smaller, crystallized details we all hinge our lives on.
- Rita Dove

I think children have talent and insight,
but it gets beaten out of them.
- Rita Dove

All of us have moments in our childhood where we come
alive for the first time.
And we go back to those moments and think,
This is when I became myself.
- Rita Dove

What is ironic is that Allen Ginsberg's importance
was in its twilight for so many years that it took
his death to bring it to the front page.
He electrified an entire world!
- Rita Dove

I try to show what it is about language and music that enthralls,
because I think those are the two elements of poetry.
- Rita Dove

The American Dream is a phrase we'll have to wrestle with all of our lives.
It means a lot of things to different people.
I think we're redefining it now.
- Rita Dove

I was apprehensive.
I feared every time I talked about poetry,
it would be filtered through the lens of race,
sex, and age.
- Rita Dove

In working on a poem, I love to revise.
Lots of younger poets don't enjoy this,
but in the process of revision I discover things.
- Rita Dove

I was appointed Poet Laureate.
It came totally out of the blue because most Poet Laureates
had been considerably older than I. It was not something
that I even had begun to dream about!
- Rita Dove

I didn't know writers could be real live people,
because I never knew any writers.
- Rita Dove

When we are touched by something it's as if we're being
brushed by an angel's wings.
- Rita Dove

I carry a notebook with me everywhere.
But that's only the first step.
- Rita Dove

The poetry that sustains me is when I feel that,
for a minute, the clouds have parted and I've seen ecstasy or something.
- Rita Dove

For years, I had heard about the lack of interest in literature in the U.S.
and I had complained about it.
I failed to understand how people could fail to be moved by art.
- Rita Dove

There are times in life when, instead of complaining,
you do something about your complaints.
- Rita Dove

What writing does is to reveal.
- Rita Dove

One definition of eternity is that we are not alone on this planet,
that there are those who've gone before and those who will come,
and that there is a community of spirits.
- Rita Dove

I write short stories, and I wrote a play.
- Rita Dove

Under adversity, under oppression, the words begin to fail,
the easy words begin to fail.
In order to convey things accurately,
the human being is almost forced to find the most precise words possible,
which is a precondition for literature.
- Rita Dove

Have you ever heard a good joke? If you've ever heard someone just right,
with the right pacing, then you're already on the way to poetry.
It's about using words in very precise ways and using gesture.
- Rita Dove

To write for PC reasons, because you think you ought
to be dealing with this subject,
is never going to yield anything that is really going
to matter to anyone else.
It has to matter to you.
- Rita Dove

If a man is called to be a street sweeper,
he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted,
or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.
He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts
of heaven and earth will pause to say,
here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Youth, large, lusty, loving -
Youth, full of grace, force, fascination.
Do you know that Old Age may come after you
with equal grace, force, fascination?
- Walt Whitman

Sometimes poetry is inspired by the conversation entered
into by reading other poems.
- John Barton

There is poetry as soon as we realize that we possess nothing.
- John Cage

The River of Life has no judgments.
The River flows with no concept of good and bad - right and wrong.
The fields and dreams of men may be nourished by the River of Life,
or flooded and covered with silt, and the River just flows.
Men may catch fish and live on the River of Life,
or they may founder in a storm and drown, and the River just flows.
The River of Life is timeless.
It is not unchanging, but it is timeless,
and it changes in its own time.
The River of Life knows no obstacles.
The River can cut through solid rock - in its own time.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

The River of Life has no meaning, no good, no bad,
no better, no worse, no love, no hate, no fear, no anger, no joy.
The River of Life has no judgment, no expectation.
The River of Life just IS. There is nothing to do.
There is nothing to say.
There is nothing to think.
There is nothing to feel.
The River just flows. The River is the source of all nourishment -
the source of all obstacles.
The River is the source of all life - the source of all death.
The River is the source of all joy - and the source of all sorrow.
Yet the River has no joy - and the River has no sorrow.
The River is just the River.
One can flow harmoniously with the River -
or one can struggle fearfully against the River -
and the River just flows.
One can accept the River - or one can deny the River -
and the River just flows.
One can worship the River of Life - or one can curse the River of Life -
and the River just flows. There is nothing to do - and the River flows.
There is nothing to say - and the River flows.
There is nothing to think - and the River flows.
There is nothing to feel - and the River flows.
The River flows - and all else is our drama.
The River flows - and all else is our invention.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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

Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.
- Thomas Gray

A poet's autobiography is his poetry.
Anything else is just a footnote.
- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

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

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

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

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

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

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

He who draws noble delights from sentiments of poetry is a true poet,
though he has never written a line in all his life.
- George Sand

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

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

To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion all in one.
- John Ruskin

Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.
- Novalis

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door,
leaving those who look through to guess about what
is seen during the moment.
- Carl Sandburg


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