You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.
— From Margaret Atwood’s 10 Rules of Writing, via Brainpickings
I’m most interested in language that pivots or shifts just as rapidly as things shift inside the unconscious.
— George Kalamaras, interviewed for Map Points
The doctor asks whether it runs in the family. Is losing your mind a family heirloom? I will answer, I don’t know. I hope that it is a consolation for survival.
— Diamond J. Sharp, “Inheritance,” published in Beltway Poetry Quarterly
You hear all sorts of arguments about how irrelevant poetry is, which I don’t accept. Neither, however, would I argue that poetry is of central cultural importance today, as it may have been at other times and in other cultures. I think that art of one kind or another — music, poetry, painting, dance, whatever — is important to every life as a way to connect the large mystery inside to the large mystery outside. And I think everybody makes that connection through one kind of art or another, but would I say poetry per se is crucial or central? Probably not, not for most people. Yet, somehow, I know we need it in the world — that much I will say, although “we” might be a relatively small group of people. It is important to say, on the other hand, that poetry is alive and well: there is so much energy in the world of contemporary poetry, however small that world might be — so many aesthetic avenues being explored, so much cross-pollination among traditions. I find it an incredibly exciting time to be writing.
— Jane Mead, interviewed by Erin Lyndal Martin for Bookslut
This house peels like a scab in the sun. Like a book left out on the beach.
— Laura Kochman, “To the Woman in the Woods - November 7,” published in Tarpaulin Sky
Writing is always a way, for me, of coming to some sort of understanding that I can’t reach otherwise.
— Joan Didion, interviewed by Sheila Heti for The Believer
Language back then was a fly behind
my eyelid and I was getting even harder

to love. Was the cigarette falling
from my grandfather’s sleeping lips,

how I still can’t figure the need for saviors.
— Morgan Parker, “Black Ego (Original Sound Track),” published in Hyperallergic
When I was young, I hid under the porch with a star in my throat.
When I got a little older, my mother opened the cupboard to let the fire out.
— Catie Rosemurgy, “Star in the Throat, Fire in the Cupboard,” featured on poets.org
A confessional poem is more diary-like and confined to the here and now and without much aesthetic dignity. When I am writing, there is no pleasure in revealing the facts of my life. Pleasure comes from the art-making impulse, from assembling language into art.
— Henri Cole, The Art of Poetry No. 98