“There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he [she] can do so, he [she] has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.”
“Work is the only device I know of. Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade, just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself. Even Joyce, our most extreme disregarder, was a superb craftsman; he could write Ulysses because he could write Dubliners. Too many writers seem to consider the writing of short stories as a kind of finger exercise. Well, in such cases, it is certainly only their fingers they are exercising.”
“What we do know about metaphor is that it is the raw uranium of poetry, and that an urge to claim wild similarities is one of the earliest markers of the poetic spirit. It is a striking fact that some people, otherwise very intelligent and artistic, seem devoid of metaphorical ability, as if that gene were simply missing from their chromosomes. In this way metaphor seems truly a gift; that is, something given, not earned. Aristotle said he could teach you to write a play, he could teach you beginning / middle / end, he could teach you the parts of rhetoric, but he could not teach anyone to make a metaphor.”
—Tony Hoagland, from “Tis Backed Like a Weasel” in Real Sofistikashun: Essays on Poetry and Craft (Graywolf Press, 2006)
Unlike riding a bike, with poetry,
you never quite know how.