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Poets can't resist the dramatic pull of their lives
by John Barton

Poets can't resist the dramatic pull of their lives
and so inevitably write autobiographical verse.
- John Barton

No poem is easily grasped; so why should any reader expect fast results?
- John Barton

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

The poet must decide not to impose his feelings in
order to write without sentimentality.
- John Barton

 

The reader's challenge is to replicate the experiment
by reading the poem and to draw their own conclusions.
- John Barton

I sometimes like to tinker with poems that have failed,
ones that I have sent aside.
Even years afterward, I will revisit them if there
is something about them that I cannot give up on.
- John Barton

I have been told by a member of the board of one of
Canada's most prominent literary magazines that a submission
of mine once caused a great deal of controversy.
- John Barton

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In the past, poetry came in the form of spells and
chants used to effect change.
- John Barton

Reading should be a repeat performance.
- John Barton

If poetry alters the way in which the reader views the world,
then it has had its desired effect.
- John Barton

Poetry is but another form of inquiry into the nature of phenomena,
using with its own unique procedures and tools.
- John Barton

To me many short poems read and write like beginnings
that simply whet my appetite;
I want to get over that.
- John Barton

The community of poets I belong to is not as close as it used to be,
if only for the fact that our lives have become busier:
jobs,
children, and the like.
- John Barton

The point of an experiment is not to arrive at a predetermined end point,
to prove or disprove anything, but to deliver a poem
that reveals much about the process taken.
- John Barton

A literary journal is intended to connect writer with reader;
the role of the editor is to mediate.
- John Barton

An experienced reader uses the poem as an agent of inquiry.
This makes poetry very exciting, unstable,
and interactive.
- John Barton

I feel very connected to poets across the country.
- John Barton

Most victims of my autobiographical verse are either far too polite,
remarkably understanding unaware that I have written poems about them.
- John Barton

I would not say I chose to write long poems on a conscious level.
The long poem has been a relative constant.
- John Barton

I consider a poem to be a kind of experiment where
a number of elements are brought together under test
conditions to see how they will interact to create meaning or relevance.
- John Barton

Who is the ideal reader? God only knows.
- John Barton

Writing can sometimes be exploitative.
I like to take a few steps of remove in order to respect
the privacy of the subject.
If readers make the link, they have engaged with the poem.
- John Barton

Some readers allow their prejudices to blind them.
A good reader knows how to disregard inappropriate responses.
- John Barton

I have always been very obsessed with time.
Time's passage makes us all very vulnerable and because
we all experience it in our own way,
it can make us feel very alone.
- John Barton

I have become intrigued with the combining of seemingly
unrelated ideas or images,
or the drawing upon the many, sometimes dissimilar,
meanings a word might have.
- John Barton

I find it exhausting to administer a magazine without an office or paid staff.
- John Barton

I became intrigued with colour theory.
The absurd pronouncements of the Colour Institute,
a group that decides what colours are hot each year or season,
amused me.
- John Barton

You can never step into the same book twice,
because you are different each time you read it.
- John Barton

Poets have to be sensitive to their audience,
but it does not mean that they censor themselves.
I realise my audience is diverse.
Some will read with empathy and curiosity while others will take offense.
- John Barton

The experiment of the poem is mostly intuitive.
I write the first draft, pulling in the various elements that interest me,
in the hope that their being combined will lead to some kind of insight.
- John Barton

We are comfortable with the fact that we cannot know
personally what happened in the world before we were born,
yet we are uncomfortable with the notion that we will
stop engaging with time at some point in the future.
- John Barton

My obsession with time informs my poetry so completely
it is hard for me to summarize it.
We want time to pass, for new things to happen to us,
we want to hold on to certain moments,
we don't want our lives to end.
- John Barton

Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets,
how much the heart can hold.
- Zelda Fitzgerald

Sucking the marrow out of life
doesn't mean choking on the bone.
- Robin Williams as John Keating
in the 1989 movie Dead Poets Society

We all write poems; it is simply that poets are the ones who write in words.
- John Fowles

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

Poets are soldiers that liberate words from the steadfast
possession of definition.
- Eli Khamarov

Poets have said that the reason to have children is
to give yourself immortality.
Immortality? Now that I have five children,
my only hope is that they are all out of the house before I die.
- Bill Cosby

The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.
- Gilbert K. Chesterton

Travelers are like poets.
They are mostly an angry race.
- Richard Burton

Saints have no moderation, nor do poets,
just exuberance.
- Anne Sexton

Till now poets were privileged to insert a certain proportion of nonsense -
very far in excess of one-half of one per cent -
into their otherwise sober documents.
- John C. Ransom

At the age of 18 all young poets are sure they will be dead at 21 -
of old age.
- Marguerite Young

A lot of poets too live on the margins of social acceptance,
they certainly aren't in it for the money.
William Blake - only his first book was legitimately published.
- Jim Jarmusch

Another one of the old poets, whose name has escaped my memory at present,
called Truth the daughter of Time.
- Aulus Gellius

Poets are the only people to whom love is not only a crucial,
but an indispensable experience, which entitles them
to mistake it for a universal one.
- Hannah Arendt

Nations are born in the hearts of poets,
they prosper and die in the hands of politicians.
- Muhammad Iqbal

The poets' scrolls will outlive the monuments of stone.
Genius survives; all else is claimed by death.
- Edmund Spenser

While I don't satisfy my curiosity about the way I work,
I'm terribly curious about the way other poets work.
But I would think that's true about many of us.
- Thom Gunn

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

But are not the dreams of poets and the tales of travellers notoriously false?
- H. P. Lovecraft

Irish poets, learn your trade, sing whatever is well made,
scorn the sort now growing up all out of shape from toe to top.
- William Butler Yeats

The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the
vehicle of novelists and poets.
- Christopher Morley

There are some fine books and essays about that.
Lewis Hyde has written about alcoholism and poets and
the role that society gives its writers -
encouraging them to die.
- Sharon Olds

Anthropologists are a connecting link between poets and scientists;
though their field-work among primitive peoples has
often made them forget the language of science.
- Robert Graves

I've been influenced by poets as diverse as Dylan Thomas,
Lewis Carroll, and Edgar Allan Poe.
- Jack Prelutsky

Poets are all who love, who feel great truths,
And tell them; and the truth of truths is love.
- Philip James Bailey

Maybe there are three or four really good poets in a generation.
- Kenneth Koch

The poets whom I knew then were all men and all seemed
dauntingly sure of themselves -
although I am sure that really they were as uncertain as I was.
- Helen Dunmore

I hate the whole race.
There is no believing a word they say,
your professional poets, I mean there never existed
a more worthless set than Byron and his friends for example.
- Arthur Wellesley

Most poets in their youth begin in adolescent sadness.
I find it more rewarding to end in gladness.
- James Broughton

Poets yearn, of course, to be published,
read, and understood, but they do little,
if anything, to set themselves above the common herd and the daily grind.
- Wislawa Szymborska

They say poets write mostly for themselves;
if anyone else likes it,
well and good, if not, it doesn't matter;
certainly,
not to me.
- Tom Glazer

I wonder what all those Chinese poets sound like in Chinese.
I like their distilled quality.
- Tom Verlaine

Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is
bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables.
Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.
- Thomas Aquinas

Of course poets have morals and manners of their own,
and custom is no argument with them.
- Thomas Hardy

Poets, in their way, are practical men;
they are interested in results.
- Allen Tate

Pound's crazy.
All poets are.
They have to be.
You don't put a poet like Pound in the loony bin.
- Ernest Hemingway

The trouble with the performance poets is that they
don't seem to have read anything.
So there is not a real sense of the poetic tradition in their work.
- Peter Davison

I make it clear why I write as I do and why other poets write as they do.
After hundreds of experiments I decided to go my own
way in style and see what would happen.
- Carl Sandburg


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