On Reading

"Read for yourselves, read for the sake of your inspiration, for the sweet turmoil in your lovely head. But also read against yourselves, read for questioning and impotence, for despair and erudition, read the dry, sardonic remarks of cynical philosophers like Cioran or even Carl Schmitt, read newspapers, read those who despise, dismiss, or simply ignore poetry and try to understand why they do it. Read your enemies and your friends, read those who reinforce your sense of what’s evolving in poetry, and also read those whose darkness or malice or madness or greatness you can’t yet understand because only in this way will you grow, outlive yourself, and become what you are."


Adam Zagajewski, translation by Clare Cavanaugh, from A Defense of Ardor: Essays