Thom Gunn - Quotes

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There have been two popular subjects for poetry in the last few decades: the Vietnam War and AIDS, about both of which almost all of us have felt deeply. ---->>>

As humans we look at things and think about what we've looked at. We treasure it in a kind of private art gallery. ---->>>

I don't know how to sit outside myself and test against a hypothetical self who stayed home. ---->>>

I had assumed that I would age with all my friends growing old around me, dying off very gradually one by one. And here was a plague that cut them off so early. ---->>>

My old teacher's definition of poetry is an attempt to understand.

My old teacher's definition of poetry is an attempt to understand.

We control the content of our dreams. ---->>>

I deliberately wrote a poem in my last book where I was suggesting that there are other passions as great as or more important than the passion of sex. ---->>>

Deep feeling doesn't make for good poetry. A way with language would be a bit of help. ---->>>

I don't think of sex as a self-destructive impulse. ---->>>

Many of my poems are not sexual. ---->>>

We tend to put poems into factions. And it restricts our reading. ---->>>

It was difficult being a teacher and out of the closet in the '50s. By the time I retired, the English department was proud of having a gay poet of a certain minor fame. It was a very satisfactory change! ---->>>

I think most men, heterosexual and homosexual, enjoy being considered sexual objects. ---->>>

I was much influenced by Jean-Paul Sartre. ---->>>

I work best in rhyme and meter. I was most confident of myself in that way. ---->>>

I admired what my students were writing, but I think their improvement doesn't directly result from me but from being in a class, being with each other. ---->>>

I try not to observe myself in the process of composing a poem because I don't want to come up with a formula, which I would then be unscrupulous in using. ---->>>

When I first started teaching at Berkeley in 1958, I could not announce that I was gay to anybody, though probably quite a few of my fellow teachers knew. ---->>>

When I first started to write, I was aware of being queer, but I didn't write about it. Queer poems would probably not have been accepted by the editors I sent them to. ---->>>

When I was an undergraduate I had very badly annotated editions of Shakespeare's sonnets, all of which left out the important fact that will has a sexual sense in Shakespeare's sonnets. ---->>>

Ginsberg's Collected Poems contains a wonderful poem about making it with Neal Cassady. ---->>>

I haven't written anything in four years. I'm sort of dried up. ---->>>

I deliberately decided to write a kind of guide to leather bars for straight people, for people not into leather, so that people could see what it was all about. ---->>>

I notice that students, particularly for gay students, it's too easy to write about my last trick or something. It's not very interesting to the reader. ---->>>

I was at a benefit for some imprisoned students in the '60s at San Francisco State, and there were lots of poets reading for the benefit: one was Elizabeth Bishop. ---->>>

We learned in the university to consider Wordsworth and Keats as Romantics. They were only a generation apart, but Wordsworth didn't even read Keats's book when he gave him a copy. ---->>>

While I don't satisfy my curiosity about the way I work, I'm terribly curious about the way other poets work. But I would think that's true about many of us. ---->>>

Biography

Name: Thom Gunn
Nationality: British
Born: 08-29, 1929
Birthplace:
Die: 04-25, 2004
Occupation: Poet
Website:

Thom Gunn (29 August 1929 – 25 April 2004), born Thomson William Gunn, was an Anglo-American poet who was praised for his early verses in England, where he was associated with The Movement and his later poetry in America, even after moving toward a looser, free-verse style. After relocating from England to San Francisco, Gunn wrote about gay-related topics—particularly in his most famous work, The Man With Night Sweats in 1992—as well as drug use, sex and his bohemian lifestyle (wikipedia)