Poetry is the distillation of language — choosing the fewest and most perfect words and then placing them in perfect order to capture a nano picture of life.

A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language. -W.H. Auden

It is a sad fact about 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

A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom. -Robert Frost

Before writing one poem, you must read 100. -Ted Kooser

This is My Letter to the World

This is my letter to the World
That never wrote to Me-
The simple News that Nature told-
With tender Majesty

Her Message is committed
To Hands I cannot see-
For love of Her-Sweet-countrymen-
Judge tenderly-of Me
-Emily Dickinson


Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Billy Collins


Eating Poetry

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. There is no happiness like mine. I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees. Her eyes are sad and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone. The light is dim. The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll, their blond legs burn like brush. The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand, when I get on my knees and lick her hand, she screams.

I am a new man. I snarl at her and bark. I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

-Mark Strand


Selecting a Reader

First, I would have her be beautiful,

and walking carefully up on my poetry

at the loneliest moment of an afternoon

her hair still damp from washing it. She would be wearing

a raincoat, an old one, dirty

from not having money enough for the cleaners.

She will take out her glasses, and there

in the bookstore, she will thumb

over my poems, then put the book back

up on the shelf. She will say to herself,

“For that kind of money, I can get

my raincoat cleaned.” And she will.

-Ted Kooser



I love the bare wire of an

old-fashioned clothesline–with a few

sun-bleached, weathered, wooden

pins dangling upside down, a golden

cord draped at one end and

next to it, the frayed shred of

a wind beaten, purple scarf

flapping in the breeze.

-Bonnie Saul Wilks, August 2007


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Kami says:

    Billy collins is a new favorite of mine 🙂
    I found this amusing!

    Flames by Billy Collins

    Smokey the Bear heads
    into the autumn woods
    with a red can of gasoline
    and a box of wooden matches.

    His ranger’s hat is cocked
    at a disturbing angle.

    His brown fur gleams
    under the high sun
    as his paws, the size
    of catcher’s mitts,
    crackle into the distance.

    He is sick of dispensing
    warnings to the careless,
    the half-wit camper,
    the dumbbell hiker.

    He is going to show them
    how a professional does it.

  2. Lamar says:

    A poem is spontaneous combustion
    A man set on fire from the inside
    Truth is the fuel and words its flame.
    It is a rising on the ring of fire
    gushing out in lava to the world
    Demanding a reaction:
    Move out of the way
    Or let it burn a hole in you.
    True poetry will not be ignored
    It is the perfume of life
    Compressed from the skunk of babble;
    or diamonds from crushed carbon
    deep underground on the moons of Jupiter
    Every common thing consists of carbon
    So do diamonds, and poetry.
    JLH 2007

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