Category Archives: Poetry

50 Powerful Quotes about Poetry

1. Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes. ― Joseph Roux

2. Poetry can be dangerous, especially beautiful poetry, because it gives the illusion of having had the experience without actually going through it. ― Rumi

3. Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. ― Leonard Cohen

4. Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own. ― Dylan Thomas

5. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. ― Emily Dickinson

6. I’ve had it with these cheap sons of bitches who claim they love poetry but never buy a book. ― Kenneth Rexroth

7. Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them. ― Dennis Gabor

8. Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. ― Carl Sandburg

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

10. Poetry is an act of peace. – Pablo Neruda

11. 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

12. Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone. – Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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

14. There is something about poetry beyond prose logic, there is mystery in it, not to be explained but admired. — Edward Young

15. If you can’t be a poet, be the poem. – David Carradine

16. Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does. — Allen Ginsberg

17. The poet is the priest of the invisible. — Wallace Stevens

18. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. – Percy Byshe Shelley

19. Poetry is a language in which man explores his own amazement. – Christopher Fry

20. The poet doesn’t invent. He listens. – Jean Cocteau

21. There is poetry as soon as we realize we possess nothing. – John Cage

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

23. Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting. – Robert Frost

24. Poetry is everywhere; it just needs editing. – James Tate

25. Poetry is frosted fire. – J. Patrick Lewis

26. Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. – T.S. Eliot

27. A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep. – Salman Rushdie

28. To be a poet is a condition, not a profession. – Robert Frost

29. Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history. – Leonardo da Vinci

30. Poetry lies its way to the truth. – John Ciardi

31. For what is a poem but a hazardous attempt at self-understanding: it is the deepest part of autobiography. – Robert Penn Warren

32. We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry. – William Butler Yeats

33. Poetry is like a bird, it ignores all frontiers. – Yevgeny Yevtushenko

34. I think that were beginning to remember that the first poets didn’t come out of a classroom, that poetry began when somebody walked off of a savanna or out of a cave and looked up at the sky with wonder and said, “Ahhh.” That was the first poem. – Lucille Clifton

35. Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose-petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo. – Don Marquis

36. Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. – Carl Sandburg

37. Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t. If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy. — Nikki Giovanni

38. But all art is sensual and poetry particularly so. It is directly, that is, of the senses, and since the senses do not exist without an object for their employment all art is necessarily objective. It doesn’t declaim or explain, it presents. – William Carlos Williams

39. All poets, all writers are political. They either maintain the status quo, or they say, ’Something’s wrong, let’s change it for the better.’ – Sonia Sanchez

40. My role in society, or any artist or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all. – John Lennon

41. If you want to annoy a poet, explain his poetry. ― Nassim Nicholas Taleb

42. Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman. ― Virginia Woolf

43. Writing poetry is a state of free float. ― Margaret Atwood

44. There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it. ― Gustave Flaubert

45. Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry. ― Jack Kerouac

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

47. Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo. – Don Marquis

48. Poetry is the robe, the royal apparel, in which truth asserts its divine origin. — Beecher

49. The courage of the poet is to keep ajar the door that leads into madness. ― Christopher Morley

50. The true poem rests between the words. ― Vanna Bonta

Do you have a favorite? Leave it in the comments!

Meet the Poet : Desireé Dallagiacomo

Desireé Dallagiacomo’s work is featured in
Words Dance 13.

Interview : Verbalizations with Musico Roots : Quick interviews with spoken word poets.

Desireé Dallagiacomo is a creative writing major at the University of New Orleans where she is a recipient of the Ryan Chigazola Poetry Scholarship. She teaches poetry and performance with Wordplay Teen Writing Project, The Centre for the Arts, and the New Orleans Recovery School District. She enjoys watermelon, estuaries, and disturbing poetry.

We’re taking submissions for the Meet the Poet series, short interviews via video, audio or the written word are welcome, peep our guidelines!

Hope on the Peripheral by Ward Kelley

Hope on the Peripheral

Hope scrawls its name on the margins,
where it finds its room on the peripheral
skin of lovers in bed, where space is most

“Your neck smells like eternity,” the lover
will whisper. The one with the neck knows
she is incapable of such hope, but will
never say this.

Hope dashes into the street, an escaping
animal, setting an example for everyone
watching from the condos.

“Sometimes I felt like I was flying,”
says the old married woman, describing
falling in love fifty years ago, “I believed
I would forever possess those wings.”

There is much reason to hope when the body
is young, perhaps even more when the body
is ending, and there are many more clues,
many more wrinkles, that the uninformed
believe attest to experience. Instead within
these folds can be found – in several places –
where hope left its name long ago, on margins.

                – Ward Kelley
                   from Words Dance 5, Summer 2004

i thank

i thank

the women’s magazine that
says it stopped running articles on dieting

the loopy lilac print from the editors squealed
“we don’t want to perpetuate female insecurities”

i flip through the scented pages
admiring the glossy waifs
who live on air and compliments
arms akimbo on a 20 inch waist
perky plastic boobs that would please any man
and a frozen-frosted lip that says “i am beautiful”

articles about your body
how to become anyone but yourself
sculpt a stomach like hers
a face like hers
a life like hers

we’ve created an army of dolls
put together wrong

and they flash lethal images
at average women who now assume
they must have gracious breasts and wide hips
with nothing between the two

so–please–starve me
of affection until a man
can run his fingertips through the desert valleys
between my ribs

but do not lie to me
or pretend to do me favors
by avoiding the articles that help you
fly off the shelves

and do not feign concern for my confidence
that you were once able to deplete
you have already done enough

                – Michelledion Matthews
                   from Words Dance 3, Winter 2003

The Beatles in Five Parts by Corey Mesler

The Beatles in Five Parts

“I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is
to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit.
I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off.
I reply, ‘The Beatles did’.”

-Kurt Vonnegut

1. 1964

The same year
The Beatles were on
Ed Sullivan
Sartre won the Nobel Prize.
I was nine
years old.
I didn’t know the universe
was absurd.
All I knew was that
something momentous had
just happened
because there were angels
on the TV.

2. Beatlemania

“Have you heard the music that no
fingers enter into?”


The Beatles
spun straw into gold,
knew the secret name,
took the pearl
of great substance and
found its source
in the oyster’s meat.
The Beatles
were the last great gasp
of the godhead,
before it became again,
you know, just
another way to the path
of light.

3. Kingmingoarkulluk

He squats in the corner,
one of the children.
The holiday swirls around
us. Someone puts on
a Beatles record, something
from the innocence,
and he leaves his nook.
We all dance. It is the
hour of festivity. One
of the children calls his name—
she says it with ease, grace–
and he nods his head
to the beat, Let me
go on loving you, tonight.

4. Let it Be

Paul and George step
outside for a quick smoke
between verses of
“I Me Mine.”
“Sorry about the godliness,”
Paul says. George looks
out across the macadam
and says, “Ok, Pauly.
Let’s make a record.”
And they go back inside
where the others are
noodling, darkened figures,
still sick with ariose
energy. Still, you know,
for a bit longer, Beatles.

5. The End of the Year of Darkness

Do I dare redress the balance?
Attempt to re-tilt
the axis of this hellbroth year,
with its capharnaum and annihilative
old gooseberries? I’ve lost my
father; the world has lost its way.
The holidays were a
magnifying glass held up to the
blackness. It
magnified the blackness.
And I sit, huddled in bedclothes and
the grippe of depression
swirling through me, watching
the clock move
inexorably on. It moves on without
me, without you,
without half the Beatles. What is
lost is lost. My
wife says it still lives here and she taps
me on the chest where
my heart would be if my heart still worked.
No, it still works.
I redress the balance.
What I create is good. A good.
The world may be a maelstrom and I a small boy.
But in my hand is a sharp knife,
of love.

                – Corey Mesler
                   from Words Dance 4, Spring 2004

Meaning by Shane Jones


I’m making myself
Being hopeful.
Fitzgerald said
that to live
you must realize
everything is meaningless,
and at the same time
believe you can change that.

Last night
we laid in bed.
I know you were awake.
And so was I.
I looked at the ceiling,
jazz music
and a Paris nightclub.
I realized then
the importance
of your weight
next to me.
The amount of hope
I place in hearing
your breathing
and not my own.

                – Shane Jones
                   from Words Dance 5, Summer 2004



My great grandmother marie lavine
died at the tender age of 98

we all knew her as grandma sugar
her steadfast grace and passion
perhaps more immortal
than all the gods themselves

her humble abiding eyes
two portraits painted
like the proverbs of the cosmos
a universe not even Michelangelo could portray

her brittle skin stained a softer shade of coffee
and wrapped in a coat of creases
like an ancient oak tree
whose placid branches availed all who sought its shelter

and I remember the rare times I sat with her
as she spoke and sang with a beautiful voice
like a ballet of bells
tracing winsome rhythms across my mind

at her funeral, I was one of five cousins
chosen to help carry her casket
a casket which bore the weight of twenty-four years
of self-regret grinding in my bones
for not being around her more often
to hear more heavenly melodies, sage like advice
and experience a delicate intimacy
which could have wrapped my whole aura
in a flawless understanding of life, truth and

                – C. Allen Rearick
                   from Words Dance 8, Fall 2005

There is something to learn everyday by Brien J. Dawson

There is something to learn everyday

Today I met with a man about buying an old painting.
This is the first time I have broken routine in three months.
The old man looks like a flag pole with flesh hanging from it.

He looked so old I was afraid he will fall apart like a card house. So
skinny and frail, yet his voice booming like a Burglar alarm, with a
distinct scratchiness, the same scratch of old Lady Day records, Coltrane
and Monk Live at the Five spot.

After we talked business, he told me how his wife had just died
and now that she is gone, he had no use for anything kinda beautiful.

Everything is ugly put up against that woman.
He says into his coffee cup.

Driving home, I thought about how it must feel to grow connected with
someone over years, like bone connects to bone after a break. What does it
feel like to love like that?

When I get home, I wipe off the virgin wall facing the front room window.
I find the stud by rapping my knuckle until I hear something solid. I drill
a hole and screw in a toggle. The painting already has a hanging wire. I
spend the rest of the night trying to make sure the painting is perfectly
balanced. I move it slightly, walk around the thrift store couch and stand
looking at it- no matter what direction I move it, it never appears level.

I was at it all evening, until I finally gave up and came to the conclusion
that one of my legs is longer than the other, because nothing looks level to

                – Brien J. Dawson
                    from Words Dance 10, Fall 2006
                    guest-edited by Jessica Dawson

a red sea of burning bridges by John Dorsey

a red sea of burning bridges

as a boy i
swam in a red
sea of burning

i saw my face
on wanted posters
covered in blisters burning
my shadow in

and now if i
dance like a ghost
it’s because i wear
the skin of invisible

only the sun may
speak my name whispered
on the lips of
this generation’s underground railroad
its revolution just about
ready to protest and
sing out loud our
full tilt boogie

                – John Dorsey
                   from Words Dance 11, Spring 2007