Literary Birthday – 5 September – Sam Hamill

Sam Hamill was born 5 September 1943 and died 14 April 2018.

Seven Quotes

  1. Nothing will change until we demolish the ‘we-they’ mentality. We are human, and therefore all human concerns are ours. And those concerns are personal.
  2. I write in my notebook with the intention of stimulating good conversation, hoping that it will also be of use to some fellow traveller. But perhaps my notes are mere drunken chatter, the incoherent babbling of a dreamer. If so, read them as such.
  3. Poetry transcends the nation-state. Poetry transcends government. It brings the traditional concept of power to its knees.
  4. Poets should speak out against what we see as the assault against our Constitution and the warmongering that’s going on. I’m perfectly willing to lay down my life for my Constitution, but I am not willing to take a life for it or any other reason because I think killing people is counterproductive.
  5. If only we could touch the things of this world at their centre, if we could only hear tiny leaves of birch struggling toward April, then we would know.
  6. Most of the ugly wars in history have been wars of religion. And there’s nothing more dangerous than someone with religious certitude who creates consequences in the world that to me are simply inexcusable.
  7. The oldest cliché in the world is about ‘what’s lost in translation’, but you don’t very often read much intelligent about what’s gained by translation, and the answer is everything. Our language is a compendium of translation.

Sam Hamill was an American poet and the co-founder of Copper Canyon Press. Hamill won the Stanley Lindberg Lifetime Achievement Award for Editing and the Washington Poets Association Lifetime Achievement Award. His most recent book, Habitation: Collected Poems, included some of his best poems over 40 years.


Posted on: 5th September 2016