Vanek - Poetry and Prose - Published Works

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Favorite Quotes

Thoughts on Writing

                                             Words are things; and a small drop of ink
                                             Falling like dew upon a thought, produces
                                             That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.
                                             Lord Byron, poet (1788-1824)

"Poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking."
John Barrington Wain, writer (1925-1994).
"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."
Scott Adams, cartoonist (1957- ).
"Writers, like teeth, are divided into incisors and grinders."
Walter Bagehot, economist and journalist (1826-1877).
"Words without thoughts never to heaven go."
William Shakespeare, poet and dramatist (1564-1616)
"For what is a poem but a hazardous attempt at self-understanding; it is the deepest part of autobiography."
Robert Penn Warren, novelist and poet (1905-1989).
"When in public poetry should take off its clothes and wave to the nearest person in sight; it should be seen in the company of thieves and lovers rather than that of journalists and publishers."
Brian Patten (b. 1946), British poet.
"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library."
Jorge Luis Borges, writer (1899-1986).
"Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind."
James Russell Lowell, poet, essayist, and diplomat (1819-1891).
"Ordering a man to write a poem is like commanding a pregnant woman to give birth to a red-headed child."
Carl Sandburg, poet and biographer (1878-1967).
"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."
Michelangelo Buonarroti, sculptor, painter, architect, and poet (1475-1564).
"Words are like money; there is nothing so useless, unless when in actual use."
Samuel Butler, writer (1835-1902).
"Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be."
Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882).
"When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy at dedication of Robert Frost Library, Amherst College, Oct. 26, 1963.
"It's splendid to be a great writer, to put men into the frying pan of your imagination and make them pop like chestnuts."
Gustave Flaubert, French novelist (circa 1851).
"The world in general doesn't know what to make of originality; it is startled out of its comfortable habits of thought, and its first reaction is one of anger."
W. Somerset Maugham, writer (1874-1965)
"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
Cyril Connolly, critic and editor (1903-1974).
"Art is a house that tries to be haunted."
Emily Dickinson, poet (1830-1886).
"A poem is never finished, only abandoned."
Paul Valery, poet and philosopher (1871-1945).
"If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it."
Margaret Fuller, author (1810-1850).
"Every man should plant a tree, have a child and write a book. These all live on after us, insuring a measure of immortality."
Quote from the Talmud.
"There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write."
William Makepeace Thackeray, novelist (1811-1863).
"Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice; journalism what will be grasped at once."
Cyril Connolly, critic and editor (1903-1974).
"Poetry is the clear expression of mixed feelings."
W.H. Auden, poet (1907-1973).
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."
Francis Bacon, essayist, philosopher, and statesman (1561-1626).

“Ink is handicapped, in a way, because you can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries.”

Christopher Morley, writer (1890-1957)


“The cloning of humans is on most of the lists of things to worry about from science, along with behavior control, genetic engineering, transplanted heads, computer poetry and the unrestrained growth of plastic flowers.”

Lewis Thomas


"It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there."
William Carlos Williams M.D. - physician and poet (1883-1963).

"It is good fun to ruin the surface of a piece of paper; to, as it were, run amuck. One hurts no one, and paper is cheap enough."
Russell Edson, poet.
"Poetry is what gets lost in translation."
Robert Frost, poet (1874-1963).
"Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time."
Voltaire, philosopher (1694-1778)
"It's none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way!"
Ernest Hemingway, writer.
"How gladly with proper words,
the soldier dies."
Wallace Stevens, poet, writer.
"Dictionary: The universe in alphabetical order."
Anatole France, novelist and essayist (1844-1924).
Poetry: "Tell all the Truth but tell it slant."  
Emily Dickinson, poet (1830-1886).
"Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking."
John Maynard Keynes.
"Words are but the signs of ideas."
Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784).
"To do great work a man must be very idle as well as very industrious."
Samuel Butler, poet (1612-1680).
"You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a long one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might be able to write ten good lines."
Rainer Maria Rilke, poet and writer.
"Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination."
Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher (1889-1951).
"Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing: ink is the great cure for all human ills."
C. S. Lewis.
"Until it is kindled by a spirit as flamingly alive as the one which gave it birth, a book is dead to us. Words divested of their magic are but dead hieroglyphs."
Henry Miller, novelist (1891-1980).
"It is what we think we know already that often prevents us from learning."  
Claude Bernard
"Each man carries within him the soul of a poet who died young."
Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, literary critic (1804-1869).
"All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry."
G.K. Chesterton, writer (1874-1936).
"Stick with what is essential to the piece, find the right image, the right language, then shut up, stand back and let the work speak for itself."
Marya Hornbacher.
"Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very'; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."
Mark Twain
"Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company."
George Gordon Byron, poet (1788-1824).
"If writers were good businessmen, they'd have too much sense to be writers."
Irwin S. Cobb, author and journalist (1876-1944).

“Words are a commodity in which there is never any slump.”

Christopher Morley, writer (1890-1957)


“The courage of the poet is to keep ajar the door that leads into madness.”
Christopher Morley, writer (1890-1957)


“The greatest thing of all is to be a master of the metaphor. It is the only thing which cannot be taught by others; and it is also a sign of original genius, because a good metaphor implies the intuitive perception of similarity in dissimilar things.”



“Books are the compasses and telescopes and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life.”

Jesse Lee Bennett


"I have learned in my thirty-odd years of serious writing only one sure lesson: stories, like whiskey, must be allowed to mature in the cask."
Sean O'Faolain, writer.
"An intractable phenomenon of writing a memoir is that you begin to miss the people you are writing about."
John Irving, writer.

Please feel free to email your favorite "writing quote" to me.