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Norman MacCaig's Quotes

Norman MacCaig profile photo

Born: 1910-11-14
Profession: Poet
Nation: Scottish
Biography of Norman MacCaig

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All those authors there, most of whom of course I've never met. That's the poetry side, that's the prose side, that's the fishing and miscellaneous behind me. You get an affection for books that you've enjoyed.

Tags: Books, Fishing, Poetry

And in a way, that's been a help to me, because I take great passions for a particular poet - sometimes it lasts for many years, sometimes only for a while. This happens to everybody.

Tags: Great, Help, Sometimes

And some poets are far better read off the page because they're very bad speakers. I'm thinking of one in particular whom I won't name, a good poet, and he reads in such a dry, boring way, your eyes start drooping.

Tags: Bad, Good, Thinking

However, I learned something. I thought that if the young person, the student, has poetry in him or her, to offer them help is like offering a propeller to a bird.

Tags: Help, Him, Poetry

In fact a lot of them I think are absolute baloney. Those Charles Olsens and people like that. At first I was interested in seeing what they were up to, what they were doing, why they were doing it. They never moved me in the way that one is moved by true poetry.

Tags: Poetry, True, Why

It's like breathing in and out to me. It's like having a conversation with someone who isn't there. Because it has to be addressed to somebody - not a particular person, or very rarely.

Tags: Rarely, Somebody, Someone

There are some friends you don't meet for twenty years and when you meet them again it's as if no twenty years has happened - you're lucky when that happens. I feel the same about books.

Tags: Again, Friends, Happens

When I was a teacher, teachers would come into my classroom and admire my desk on which lay nothing whatever, whereas theirs were heaped with papers and books.

Tags: Books, Teacher, Whatever

Anybody who writes doesn't like to be misunderstood.

Tags: Anybody, Writes

I'm very gregarious, but I love being in the hills on my own.

Tags: Hills, Love, Nature

Well, I love fishing. I wouldn't kill a fly myself but I've no hesitation in killing a fish. A lot of men are like that. No bother. Out you come. Thump. And that's not the only reason.

Tags: Love, Men, Reason

A terrible thing about getting oldish is that your friends start dying, and in the last ten years I have lost seven or eight of my closest.

Tags: Friends, Lost, Start

All I write about is what's happened to me and to people I know, and the better I know them, the more likely they are to be written about.

Tags: Happened, Write, Written

And if they haven't got poetry in them, there's nothing you can do that will produce it.

Tags: Poetry, Produce

And it's impossible for me to read Henry James.

Tags: Henry, Impossible, Read

And the second question, can poetry be taught? I didn't think so.

Tags: Poetry, Question, Second

But I hang on to books. I love them. I even think they're very nice decor in a room - far better than paintings... That's not quite true!

Tags: Love, Nice, True

But you'd have a job to find many of my poems which would seem to be very influenced by a particular person.

Tags: Influenced, Job, Seem

I don't care whether a book is a first edition or not. I'm not a bibliophile in that word's natural sense.

Tags: Book, Care, Sense

I don't think of myself all the time.

Tags: Time

I find it's impossible for me to read Proust.

Tags: Impossible, Proust, Read

I never think about poetry except when I'm writing it. I mean my poetry.

Tags: Mean, Poetry, Writing

I only keep books that I like very much. Otherwise I'd throw them out.

Tags: Books, Keep, Throw
Much more quotes by Norman MacCaig below the page.

I said I have no powers of invention. Well, I also have no powers of mimicry.

Tags: Invention, Powers, Said

I used to fish the Border rivers, but nowadays you have to queue up for a shot and I can't stand that.

Tags: Fish, Stand, Used

I used to have a great love for Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, the big boys of the last century.

Tags: Big, Great, Love

I was very interested in American poetry for many years. Much less now.

Tags: American, Less, Poetry

If I wrote a play with four characters every single one of them would talk like me regardless of age or sex.

Tags: Age, Sex, Single

People haven't got the interest in long long works these days. A lack of interest which I share.

Tags: Days, Interest, Works

Well, I'm a light traveller. I chuck things away.

Tags: Away, Light, Traveller

When I go fishing I like to know that there's nobody within five miles of me.

Tags: Fishing, Nobody, Within

When I talk of hearing a poet's voice speaking, I always think of it as in the presence of the man.

Tags: Poet, Talk, Voice

When I was asked to be Writer in Residence at Edinburgh I thought, you can't teach poetry. This is ridiculous.

Tags: Poetry, Thought, Writer