Why erase the works of other writers? The philosophical answer is that poets, as Wordsworth defines them, are “affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present.” The more practical answer: compared to writing, erasing feels easy. But I am here to convince you: to erase is to write, style is the consequence of the writer’s omissions, and the writer is always plural. To erase is to leave something else behind.
The sender of a message can never fully know his recipient’s mental code book…. Every poem is a message, different for every reader.
Full ownership of a book only comes when you have made it a part of yourself, and the best way to make yourself a part of it — which comes to the same thing — is by writing in it.
Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.
Poetry is the control of context.
Everyone wants to be sincere, an individual. But how would you describe an idea, if you didn’t have words already?
My favorite compliment that I got from a writer early on was, ‘you leave out all the right things.’
Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people.
Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.
It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.