In Náhuatl, the language of the Aztec world, one key word for poet was 'tlamatine,' meaning 'the one who knows,' or 'he who knows something.' Poets were considered 'sages of the word,' who meditated on human enigmas and explored the beyond, the realm of the gods.

— Edward Hirsch

The most fulfilling Edward Hirsch quotes to discover and learn by heart

Reading poetry is an adventure in renewal, a creative act, a perpetual beginning, a rebirth of wonder.

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Cafeteria-style education, combined with the unwillingness of our schools to place demands on students, has resulted in a steady diminishment of commonly shared information between generations and between young people themselves.

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And every year there is a brief, startling moment When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air: It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies; It is the changing light of fall falling on us.

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Poetry connects us to what is deepest in ourselves.

It gives us access to our own feelings, which are often shadowy, and engages us in the art of making meaning. It widens the space of our inner lives. It is a magical, mysterious, inexplicable (though not incomprehensible) event in language.

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There has never been a great poet who wasn't also a great reader of poetry.

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One of the deep fundamentals of poetry is the recurrence of sounds, syllables, words, phrases, lines, and stanzas. Repetition can be one of the most intoxicating features of poetry. It creates expectations, which can be fulfilled or frustrated. It can create a sense of boredom and complacency, but it can also incite enchantment and inspire bliss.

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I put down these memorandums of my affections in honor of tenderness, in honor of all of those who have been conscripted into the brotherhood of loss.

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A poem is a hand, a hook, a prayer. It is a soul in action.

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The idea of a poem as a message in a bottle means that it's sent out towards some future reader and the reader who opens that bottle becomes the addressee of the literary text.

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The spiritual desire for poetry can be overwhelming, so much do I need it to experience and name my own perilous depths and vast spaces, my own well-being.

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You can seek clarity, you can seek warmth, you can try to make something for lasting. You can pack something in salt so that it's well made and you can hope that it outlasts time. But, ultimately that's not up to you.

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So, some of the most difficult formal poems that I've written, say one sentence sonnets, I've been able to do those fairly quickly whereas some of the clearest, simplest lyrics that I've written have taken me the longest to get to the clarity of feeling that you're looking for.

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About Edward Hirsch

Quotes 126 sayings
Profession Poet
Birthday January 20, 1950

The mysterious thing about writing poetry is that when you're - when things are going poorly, when you're not thinking well, even making two sentences together is extremely hard and I just can't make the connections.

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I mean, in the history of poetry there have been a lot poetries where you have to inherit the position of poet from your ancestors and I think that if you just leave anyone to become a poet based on an aristocratic society, then a lot of people are left out who might have something to offer.

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I walk with Federico Garcia Lorca around the Upper West Side in Manhattan because that was a neighborhood he lived in and I imagine walking around Paris with Cesar Vallejo, a great Peruvian poet who lived in Paris. And I kind of create the walk as a kind of drama of my apprenticeship.

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Scholars of the Hebrew bible define something they call wisdom literature and I would say clearly the poetry of wisdom is something that comes with age or that might come with age which has to do with reflecting on experience.

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I think that as long as you have other poets before you and that you can learn from them, then it's always open ended for you.

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My focus is on the reader and that the poet's job is not to inspire himself or herself. The poet's job is to inspire some future reader. And so, as a reader you have a task to do in finding those bottles and opening up the messages and experiencing what's in them inside of yourself.

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Now, that can be a traditional form or it can be something you're inventing.

It can be the development of a metaphor, the working through of a metaphor.

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The way to become a poet is to read poetry and to imitate what you read and to read passionately and widely and in as involved a way as you can.

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There are many poets that use as my models.

In my first book of poems, I had several for the "Sleepwalkers," I had several poems that were apprentice poems like this in which I take a walk with a poet who is no longer alive.

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So, the result though is by the time I've got something, it's been worked over so many times that although I do make changes as the end, often by the time I've gotten it, it's pretty much completed.

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think what you hope for is that at different times of your life you're able to write the poetry that reflects the moment that you're in on your own journey.

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I would be happier if people who went through MFA programs also were already, by then, deeply committed readers of poetry because we need readers of poetry as much as writers of poetry.

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A stress on the system and I think a painful thing for many young poets who are looking to find a life in poetry that they're not going to be able to find.

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I wish I wrote drafts and then revised them, but I don't. What I do is I seem to revise as I go.

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Books and newspapers assume a "common reader" that is, a person who knows the things known by other literate persons in the culture. Obviously, such assumptions are never identical from writer to writer, but they show a remarkable consistency

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So, the process of revision, it's not systematic.

But for me, I mean, I know a lot of poets who write out a draft and then revise it and I think they're happier people. But, I'm just not able to do it that way. I need to just continually examine it as I do it.

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I am a tiny seashell that has secretly drifted ashore and carries the sound of the ocean surging through its body.

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When I taught at the University of Houston in the Creative Writing program we required the poets to take workshops in fiction writing and we required the fiction writers to take workshops in poetry. And the reason for that is because the fiction writers seemed to need to learn how to pay greater attention to language itself, to the way that language works.

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I think it shapes it in very deep ways that you don't entirely understand.

Rainer Maria Rilke said there are two inexhaustible sources for poetry. One is dreams, and the other is childhood. I think childhood is an inexhaustible source of your becoming who you will be and certain deep feelings are set inside of you.

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We're trying to make something that lasts in language and there's no question that many fiction writers began as poets and it's hard for me to think of any good fiction writers who don't also read poetry.

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Sometimes I have a feeling that I just can't get rid of.

Sometimes there's an experience that I want to write about that I have to get off my chest. Sometimes there are some words that appeal to you.

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I think the culture can absorb so many people writing poetry and trying to earn their living in poetry.

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First of all I think that poetry is very noble and I always have with me the sense of the nobility of poetry.

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I think that's a connection that you can only hope for.

It's not something that you can make because it needs someone else.

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I was surprised recently to find a book called "Poetry in Persons" that's coming out about visit to poets to a class that Pearl London gave.

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In the Middle Ages, the troubadour poets invented the concept of courtly love--a fantasy love, a noble passion, which was also extra-marital and thus inevitably thwarted, illicit, adulterous. One of the medieval terms for it was amour honestus (honest love). I've always wondered why this passionate ideal--masochistic, spiritual-travelled with such wildfire throughout Europe. My poem, a ghazal, takes up the subject.

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Now, as I've gotten older I've been able to write more quickly.

Sometimes I get in the space of something and I can do a lot in a day.

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I have the idea that lyric poetry is a poetry that's driven by a sense of the presence of death. That there's something unbearable about the fact that we're going to die and that we can't stand it and I think you find that out in childhood and you don't really - at least I found it out in childhood and I found it hard to get over.

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That is many poets don't know how to tell a story and they don't have a sense of how to put things in order to tell a story and we thought the poets could learn from fiction writers something about developing a character over time who wasn't just you and also creating a narrative structure.

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Now, the process of writing poetry is very messy. Not systematic, never quite the same

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A great model for this is the way that Dante calls on Virgil at the beginning of 'The Inferno,' 'The Divine Comedy,' to help guide him through the underworld.

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Television watching does reduce reading and often encroaches on homework.

Much of it is admittedly the intellectual equivalent of junk food. But in some respects, such as its use of standard written English, television watching is acculturative.

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When I was a freshman in college I went to Grinnell College in Iowa.

I brought my poems to my freshman humanities teacher whose name was Carol Parsinan, a wonderful teacher. And Carol did a really great thing for me. She taught me more than anyone.

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But, that was the beginning, though I didn't start writing until I was in high school and when I was in high school I really began to write poetry with great energy and enthusiasm.

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Readers bring their own experiences, their own range of - their own wisdom, their own knowledge, their own insights to poem and the meaning of a poem takes place in the negotiation between the poet, the poem and the reader.

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I did not know the work of mourning Is a labor in the dark We carry inside ourselves

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Our sense that things are transient, that everything is passing and then if you want to save something from the endless flux of experience and the world's movement, you have to set down a stake and try and make something that will last.

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