‘Craft means handiwork, a matter of hands. And these hands must belong to one person, i.e., a unique, mortal soul searching for its way with its voice and its dumbness. Only truthful hands write true poems. I cannot see any basic difference between a handshake and a poem.’
Letter to Hans Bender, 1960
‘A poem, being an instance of language, hence essentially dialogue, may be a letter in a bottle thrown out to sea with the – surely not always strong – hope that it may somehow wash up somewhere, perhaps on a shoreline of the heart. In this way, too, poems are en route: they are headed toward.
Toward what? Toward something open, inhabitable, an approachable you, perhaps, an approachable reality.
Such realities are, I think, at stake in a poem.’
‘Speech on the Occasion of Receiving the Literature Prize of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen’, 1958
Paul Celan [tr. Rosmarie Waldrop, Collected Prose (Carcanet)]