And the poet said...
I want to share a half dozen of my favorite quotes about the process and charges of poetry. I’d love to hear what you think of these (some of them are, purposefully, provocative). I’d also like for you to share some of your own favorites.
1. “I believe fervently that the poet’s first obligation is to his own voice—to find it and use it. And one’s ‘voice’ does not only speak in the often slipshod imprecise vocabulary with which one buys the groceries but with all of the resources of one’s life whatever they may be, no matter whether they are ‘American’ or of another cultures, so long as they are truly one’s own and not faked.”
2. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread.
3. “The most important thing is to find a way to embody on the page meaning as it comes to you….You have to find a way to enact on the page the medium through which you apprehend significance.”
4. “I am who I am, doing what I came to do, acting upon you like a drug or a chisel to remind you of your me-ness, as I discover you in myself.”
5. “And above all, my body as well as my soul, beware of assuming the sterile attitude of a spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of miseries is not a proscenium, a man screaming is not a dancing bear…”
--Aimé Césaire, from Notebook of a Return to the Native Land
6. “The essence of poetry is the unique view—the unguessed relationship, suddenly manifest. Poetry’s eye is always aslant, oblique.”
—Josephine Jacobsen, “One Poet’s Poetry”
Poet and editor Camille T. Dungy was born in Denver but moved often as her father, an academic physician, taught at many different medical schools across the country. She earned a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Dungy’s full-length poetry publications include Trophic...