Ten Poets on Poetry

Jim Ellis aaduna Avenues on Wednesday Cayuga Museum Word Revisited
Jim Ellis (photo provided)

Jim Ellis, who leads and coordinates a monthly poetry circle in Auburn, NY is recognized by the community as an “elder” in this particular literary genre. Jim consistently identifies “pathways” to inspire and motivate so readers and fans can easily embrace the historical importance of poetry.  He compiled and shared the following thoughts as aaduna’s “Avenues on Wednesdays” resumes this Wednesday, June 27th.

1.  The poet's job is to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth in such a beautiful way that people cannot live without it; to put into words those feelings we all have that are so deep, so important, and yet so difficult to name.  - Jane Kenyon  (U.S., 1947-1995)

2.  A poet is a catcher more than a pitcher, but the poet likes to think of himself as a pitcher more than a catcher.  - Jack Spicer  (U.S., 1925-1965)

3.  American poetry is mostly incomprehensible because its interiorization and subjectivization has caused a break in contact between the poet and the reader.  
- Czeslaw Milosz  (Poland/Lithuania/U.S., 1911-2004)

4.  The speakers in my "rogue sonnets" are folks who take the restrictions and traditions that have been handed to them and do what they can to make beautiful things with their lives.  So the fact that the sonnets follow some rules and flaunt others is a direct reflection of their subjects.  - Camille Dungy  (U.S., 1972- )

5.  I think my first connection with poetry came from the movies.  Watching them, I could feel the impact and endless language of the image.  I learned more from movies about pace, rhythm, gestures, and the limitless power of expression, than I did from poetry itself.  Of course, it is much easier to improvise a vivid moment in a film than in poetry, because the image speaks for itself.  Words are delicate instruments:  How to use them so that, after having read the poem, the taste remaining is not of the words themselves, but of a thought, a situation, a parallel reality?  If not used appropriately, words in poetry are like the ugly remains of food after eating.  What I mean is that readers will reject words if they don't serve to shift attention from themselves to somewhere else.  - Luljeta Lleshanaku  (Albania, 1968- )

6.  Writing is easy - just open a vein and bleed.  - Red Smith  (U.S., 1905-1982)

7.  Life has to be lived before we can know what it is.  - Lisel Mueller  (Germany/U.S., 1924-)

8.  Poetry is a cure for ideology.  - Yves Bonnefoy  (France, 1923-2016)

9.  Poetry exists because the heart rebels against the suppression of its inner life.  - Cristina Viti  (England)

10.  You can never feel small after reading the poetry of Tomas Tranströmer.  (homage to Transtromer, 1931-2015)  - Nobel Prize Committee, 2011 


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