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Thom Gunn's Quotes

Thom Gunn profile photo

Born: 1929-08-29
Profession: Poet
Nation: British
Biography of Thom Gunn

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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.

Tags: Fact, Left, Sense

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.

Tags: True, While, Work

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.

Tags: Age, Friends, Old

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.

Tags: Last, Poetry, War

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

Tags: Art, Private, Treasure

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

Tags: Good, Help, Poetry

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

Tags: Making, Poem, Wonderful

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

Tags: Against, Home, Self

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

Tags: Impulse, Sex

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

Tags: Dried, Four, Written

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

Tags: Enjoy, Men, Sexual

I was much influenced by Jean-Paul Sartre.

Tags: Influenced, Sartre

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

Tags: Best, Confident, Work

Many of my poems are not sexual.

Tags: Poems, Sexual

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

Tags: Poetry, Teacher, Understand

We control the content of our dreams.

Tags: Content, Control, Dreams

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

Tags: Poems, Put, Reading

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.

Tags: Result, Students, Writing

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.

Tags: Decided, Straight, Write

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.

Tags: Book, Great, Sex

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.

Tags: Easy, Gay, Write

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.

Tags: Process, Try, Using

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.

Tags: Reading, State, Students

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Much more quotes by Thom Gunn below the page.

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!

Tags: Change, Teacher, Time

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.

Tags: Book, Him, Learned

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.

Tags: Few, Gay, Started

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.

Tags: Aware, Started, Write