Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity.
I encourage students to pursue an idea far enough so they can see what the cliches and stereotypes are. Only then do they begin to hit pay dirt.
I learned to impersonate the kind of person that talks about poetry. It comes from teaching, I think.
I seem to keep returning to my father in poems because his personality was so extreme, so driven. He did everything to excess.
I think that it's more likely that in my 60s and 70s I will be writing poetry rather than fiction.
If people associate me with a region, that's fine with me.
In the best fiction, the language itself can become almost invisible.
In the later books I am much more at home in the use of language to describe things. I had never thought of that until a critic pointed that out.
Maybe the example of Southern fiction writing has been so powerful that Southern poets have sort of keyed themselves to that.
Neither of my parents has been very sensitive about my writing.
I don't think the creative writing industry has helped American poetry.
I considered going to film school; I took a course in film and was very interested in filmmaking as well as film writing.
Fiction is about intimacy with characters, events, places.
I don't think poetry is something that can be taught. We can encourage young writers, but what you can't teach them is the very essence of poetry.
I love to create interesting textures with language. You can do it as long as it seems like a discovery.
You have to really dive deep back into yourself and get rid of so much modern analytical categorization. It's one of the great things poetry does.
If a poem is not memorable, there's probably something wrong. One of the problems of free verse is that much of the free verse poetry is not memorable.
It was less a literary thing than a linguistic, philosophical preoccupation... discovering how far you can go with language to create immediate, elementary experience.
A lot of my students are Asian-American, and it has been thrilling to watch them break through the stereotypes into something alive and surprising.
Our most famous writers are Faulkner and Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor. It would make sense that the poetry would reflect some of those same values, some of the same techniques.
The Language Poets are writing only about language itself. The Ashbery poets are writing only about poetry itself. That seems to me a kind of dead end.
The great watershed of modern poetry is French, more than English.
Pound's translation of Chinese poetry was maybe the most important thing I read. Eliot a little bit later.
In the late 60s and early 70s, I did get interested in voices, and in narration and embodying the voice, making the poem sound like a real person talking.
I write as a way of keeping myself going. You build your life around writing, and it's what gets you through. So it's partly just curiosity to see what you can do.
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