The poet or the revolutionary is there to articulate the necessity, but until the people themselves apprehend it, nothing can happen... Perhaps it can't be done without the poet, but it certainly can't be done without the people. The poet and the people get on generally very badly, and yet they need each other. The poet knows it sooner than the people do. The people usually know it after the poet is dead; but that's all right. The point is to get your work done, and your work is to change the world.
There is this tendency to think that if you could only find the magic way, then you could become a poet. "Tell me how to become a poet. Tell me what to do." . . . What makes you a poet is a gift for language, an ability to see into the heart of things, and an ability to deal with important unconscious material. When all these things come together, you're a poet. But there isn't one little gimmick that makes you a poet. There isn't any formula for it.
One of the surest tests of the superiority or inferiority of a poet is the way in which a poet borrows. 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 than that from which it is 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.
T. S. Eliot
Songs of myself I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul, The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me, The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into new tongue. I am the poet of the woman the same as the man, And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man, ..
That's a poet.' 'I thought you said it was a bo-at.' 'Stupid pet! Don't you know what a poet it?' 'Why, a thing to sail on the water in.' 'Well, perhaps you're not so far wrong. Some poets do carry people over the sea... '... 'A poet is a man who is glad of something, and tries to make other people glad of it too.
Happy indeed the poet of whom, like Orpheus, nothing is known but an immortal name! Happy next, perhaps, the poet of whom, like Homer, nothing is known but the immortal works. The more the merely human part of the poet remains a mystery, the more willing is the reverence given to his divine mission.
A poet dares to be just so clear and no clearer; he approaches lucid ground warily, like a mariner who is determined not to scrape his bottom on anything solid. A poet's pleasure is to withhold a little of his meaning, to intensify by mystification. He unzips the veil from beauty, but does not remove it. A poet utterly clear is a trifle glaring.
E. B. White
Recall what used to be the theme of poetry in the romantic era. In neat verses the poet lets us share his private, bourgeois emotions: his sufferings great and small, his nostalgias, his religious or political pre-occupations, and, if he were English, his pipe-smoking reveries. On occasions, individual genius allowed a more subtle emanation to envelope the human nucleus of the poem - as we find in Baudelaire for example. But this splendour was a by-product. All the poet wished was to be a human being. When he writes, I believe today's poet simply wishes to be a poet.
Jose Ortega y Gasset
Having experimented in both poetry and prose, I can say that the two are such loaded words. But neither are quite as weighted as the word 'poet'. I think some people can write poetry their whole lives, and never truly BE a 'poet'. Whereas I see poets in the wanderers I encounter, the baristas who serve me, and the truckers I, so, love to talk to.To be a poet in my humble opinion is to be a muse of the human experience. I love that I love the idea, that anything can be poetry, it can't be defined. It's a feeling, like punk rock. I'm not one for form or structure. I say if your words are visceral and honest, it's poetry. If you see the beauty of the world and humanity, and you preach it, you're a poet.
A true poet is more than just a man who can write a poem with a pen. A true poet writes poetry with his very life. A true poet doesn't use poetic devices to con the heart of a woman but uses the beauty of all that is poetic to serve, cherish, and express love to the heart of a woman. Just as a true warrior is not a conqueror of femininity but a protector of femininity, a true poet is not just a wooer of a woman's heart but one who knows how to nurture and plant love in a woman's heart. Simply put, a true poet is a man who knows how to be intimate with a lover - first and foremost with Christ.
A poet is wounded into speech, and he examines these wounds, meticulously, to discover how to heal them. The bad poet harangues at the pain and yowls at the weapons that lacerate him; the great poet explores the inflamed lips of ruined flesh with ice-caked fingers, glittering and precise; but ultimately his poem is the echoing, dual voice reporting the damages.
Samuel R. Delany
Nowadays when a poet with one privately printed book can have his next three years taken care of by a Guggenheim fellowship, a Kenyon Review fellowship, and the Prix de Rome, it is hard to remember what chances the poet took in that small-town world, how precariously hand-to-mouth his existence was. And yet in one way the old days were better; [Vachel] Lindsay after a while, by luck and skill, got far more readers than any poet could get today.
In the eyes of others a man is a poet if he has written one good poem. In his own he is only a poet at the moment when he is making his last revision to a new poem. The moment before, he was still only a potential poet; the moment after, he is a man who has ceased to write poetry, perhaps forever.
Loneliness is necessary for pure poetry. When someone intrudes into the poet's life (and any sudden personal contact, whether in the bed or in the heart, is an intrusion) the poet loses his or her balance for a moment, slips into being what he or she is, uses his or her poetry as one would use money or sympathy. The person who writes the poetry emerges, tentatively, like a hermit crab from a conch shell. The poet, for that instant, ceases to be a dead person.
My best songs were written very quickly. Just about as much time as it takes to write it down is about as long as it takes to write it...In writing songs I've learned as much from Cezanne as I have from Woody Guthrie...It's not me, it's the songs. I'm just the postman, I deliver the songs...I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I'll die like a poet.