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The Stir City Piece (woven of 70,000 coffee stir sticks) by Jonathan Brilliant, Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke Virginia

We like poetry — and we like to share quotes about poetry. A good quote addresses a subject in a concise way, with elegance and intelligence. Quotes come from many places. Often they happen without premeditation or planning. Here’s a collection of quotes that help us understand what poetry — and the written word — can do on short notice and in an economical way.


Poetry & SilenceMarilyn Nelson

I think poetry comes out of silence and it should lead us back to silence. Silence is the source of so much of what we need to get through our lives. Poetry consists of words and phrases and sentences that emerge like something coming out of water. They call up something in us, but then they turn us back into our own silence. It’s a gift, in a way; a gift out of a kind of universal silence that takes us into a private silence.

That’s why reading poetry alone, silently, takes us someplace where we can’t get ordinarily. Poetry opens us to this “otherness” that exists within us. Poetry and the silence of the inner life are related and connected. When you read a poem, you say, ah, and then you listen to what it brings out inside of you. What it is not words, but silence.

— Marylin Nelson   

Marilyn Nelson has taught poetry and contemplative practice to college students and to West Point cadets. She gives winsome voice to forgotten people from history, shining a light on the complicated ancestry that can help us in what she calls “communal pondering.” To sit with Marilyn Nelson is to gain a newly spacious perspective on what that might mean — and on why, in this troubled moment, Americans young and old are turning to poetry with urgency. (from "On Being," with host Krista Tippett, hear on more than 400 public radio stations, February 25, 2017)

Life is a tragedy full of joy. — Bernard Malamud (1914-86)
Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. ― Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
Poems are handbooks for human decency and understanding. Poets hold water in their cupped hands and run back from the well because someone is parched and thirsting. The poem is a force field against despair. — Elizabeth Alexander, Academy of American Poets Chancellor (2015– )
Copyright 2018 — Prairie Art Brothers
February 1, 2018 — 0.0.3