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" All of us have moments in our childhood where we come alive for the first time. And we go back to those moments and think, This is when I became myself. "
" Rap is only one end of a whole spectrum of verbal play and virtuosity. Rap is geared for aural pleasure. "
" I believe people may have a predisposition for artistic creativity. It doesn't mean they're going to make it. "
" My favorite poets may not be your bread and butter. I have more favorite poems than favorite poets. "
" I think reading Shakespeare's plays when I was young was extremely important. He had the ability to make utter strangers come alive. "
" Nothing is too small. Nothing is too, quote-unquote, ordinary or insignificant. Those are the things that make up the measure of our days, and they're the things that sustain us. And they're the things that certainly can become worthy of poetry. "
" I was appointed Poet Laureate. It came totally out of the blue because most Poet Laureates had been considerably older than I. It was not something that I even had begun to dream about! "
" I was apprehensive. I feared every time I talked about poetry, it would be filtered through the lens of race, sex, and age. "
" For years, I had heard about the lack of interest in literature in the U.S. and I had complained about it. I failed to understand how people could fail to be moved by art. "
" I loved to write when I was a child. I wrote, but I always thought it was something that you did as a child, then you put away childish things. "
" There are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints. "
" Going to the library was the one place we got to go without asking for permission. And they let us choose what we wanted to read. It was a feeling of having a book be mine entirely. "
" It's unfortunate that sometimes in schools, there's this need to have things quantified and graded. "
" My father is a chemist, my mother was a homemaker. My parents instilled in us the feeling that learning was the most exciting thing that could happen to you, and it never ends. "
" It really wasn't until I was in college when I began to write more and more, and I realized I was scheduling my entire life around my writing. "
" I think that you certainly don't have to be aged and travel the world to write a poem. "
" Being true to yourself really means being true to all the complexities of the human spirit. "
" Instead of trying to come up and pontificate on what literature is, you need to talk with children, to teachers, and make sure they get poetry in the curriculum early. "
" Under adversity, under oppression, the words begin to fail, the easy words begin to fail. In order to convey things accurately, the human being is almost forced to find the most precise words possible, which is a precondition for literature. "
" If they don't read, if they don't love reading; if they don't find themselves compulsively reading, I don't think they're really a writer. "
" I make a discovery in a poem as I write it. "
" I try to show what it is about language and music that enthralls, because I think those are the two elements of poetry. "
" People write me from all over the country, asking me, and sometimes even telling me, what they think a poet laureate should do. I found that immensely valuable. "
" Libraries are where it all begins. "
" I prefer to explore the most intimate moments, the smaller, crystallized details we all hinge our lives on. "
" If we really want to be full and generous in spirit, we have no choice but to trust at some level. "
" The sound of the mandolin is a very curious sound because it's cheerful and melancholy at the same time, and I think it comes from that shadow string, the double strings. "
" I think one of the things that people tend to forget is that poets do write out of life. It isn't some set piece that then gets put up on the shelf, but that the impetus, the real instigation for poetry is everything that's happening around us. "
" What is ironic is that Allen Ginsberg's importance was in its twilight for so many years that it took his death to bring it to the front page. He electrified an entire world! "
" I carry a notebook with me everywhere. But that's only the first step. "
" As an African-American, as a woman, I think that I've been sensitized to the way in which history privileges the white male and the way in which certain aspects of history, the things that we are taught in school, the things that are handed down, never, never entered the picture though they might have been very important. "