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The Art of Voice: Poetic Principles and Practice

Tony Hoagland

Top 10 Best Quotes

“poems of experience bear the scars and wounds and scorch marks, even the imperfections that damage leaves on the soul, but a good poem also testifies to the triumph of still being able to speak.”

“many of us read poetry in order to learn as well as to be entertained. We enjoy being in the company of someone who knows what she is talking about, or who acts like she does. For the time it takes to read a poem, we will entrust ourselves, even subordinate ourselves, to a convincing speaker, and we will relish or be enraptured by their mastery. When you are in the hands of an assured language user and an experienced thinker or feeler—to surrender is one of the true pleasures of community and art.”

“You speak differently to your four-year-old daughter than you do to the bank manager.”

“We like to say "I changed my mind," but the human mind alters its direction so rapidly and constantly, we might as well say "My mind changed me.”

“This speaker may turn out to be a "confidence man" with a trick up his sleeve, but we are attracted by such familiar flavors of speech, the way that bees are attracted to the blue juice of a melting popsicle.”

“The truth is, a writer’s voice is made from other writers’ voices. Pieced together, picked and chosen, stumbled into, uninformed: influence seems like an involuntary series of contagions that eventually turns into a sort of vessel, or transportation system. As we acquire a sense of taste, and perhaps a sense of vocation, our reading becomes more directed and targeted, but we are bent and shaped and destined to be changed by the genius of others.”

“The idea that writerly originality appears from nowhere, or exists as something in isolation, a thing to be guarded and protected from influence, is lunacy. Anyone who doesn’t school themselves by deep, wide, and idiosyncratic reading is choosing aesthetic poverty. Such aesthetic cloistering is like protecting your virginity in the belief that it will make you better at sex.”

“The goal of the poem is not to conceal uncertainty and to deliver an airtight argument, or proclamation, or insight, not to arrive at some truth, but rather to display the nature of the speaker's "real-time" sensibility, including its tendency toward indecisiveness and self-contradiction.”

“Poets are wounded like all other human beings, but they have somehow not been wounded into the condition of speechlessness. Not quite.”

“O’Hara famously said that a poem was something one wrote instead of making a phone call to a friend, and his poems are indeed as conversational and friendly as phone calls.”

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Book Keywords:

change, on-writing, poem, speech, identity, sensibility, human, attraction, trick, mind, indecisiveness, voice

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