Top Quotes from James Tate

I don’t think you can define how you acquire your imagination any more than you can define why one person has a sense of humor and another doesn’t. But I certainly would lean to the side that says all those solitary hours of daydreaming were a kind of training for poetry.

James Tate

When you don’t sleep, you start to hallucinate, and that’s not good.

James Tate

I like to start with the ordinary, and then nudge it, and then think, ‘What happens next, what happens next?’

James Tate

I can’t know entirely what’s at stake beforehand; you find out as you go. I love to take a poem, for instance, that starts with something seemingly frivolous or inconsequential and then grows in gravity until by the end it’s something very serious.

James Tate

I was just sitting on my bed in a dormitory room, and I started writing. The thing that was magic about it was that once you put down one word, you could cross it out. I figured that out right away. I put down ‘mountain,’ and then I’d go, ‘No – ‘valley.’ That’s better.’

James Tate

I love my funny poems, but I’d rather break your heart. And if I can do both in the same poem, that’s the best.

James Tate

If you laughed earlier in the poem, and I bring you close to tears in the end, that’s the best.

James Tate