Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity.
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.
Some people swear by writing courses, but whether it really helps American poetry, I have doubts.
Some people want to call me an Appalachian writer, even though I know some people use regional labels to belittle.
Southern poets are still writing narrative poems, poems in forms, dramatic poems.
The best books of our times have included the three mature volumes of Philip Larkin. They're very short books of poems, and very carefully arranged.
With prose you can incorporate more details, develop scenes, sustain the tension in a special way. Prose has its own speed.
I don't think American poetry has gotten any better in the past 35 years. Oddly enough, creative writing programs seem to have been good for fiction, and I would not have predicted that.
I have taught students from the New York City area so long I have a special affinity and rapport with them. It surprises me sometimes that there are students from anywhere else.
The young people have MTV and rock and roll. Why would they go to read poetry? Poetry belongs to the Stone Age. It awakens in us perceptions that go back to those times.
Among the American contemporaries I read with most enjoyment are several North Carolinians. I think the best poetry being written these days is being written by Southerners.
I tell students they will know they are getting somewhere when a scene is so painful they can just barely bring themselves to write about it. A writer has to draw blood.
We have a lot of long narrative poems written in the 20th century, but they're not very well known, and they're not read by very many people.
What actually makes poetry poetry is of course impossible to define. We recognize it when we hear it, when we see it, but we can't define it.
When you have an idea for a story, you want those characters to reach as many people as you can. I think you normally think of prose as a way of doing that. It fits our time, the culture.
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.
In the best fiction, the language itself can become almost invisible.
If people associate me with a region, that's fine with me.
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.
Fiction is about intimacy with characters, events, places.
I did not have a very literary background. I came to poetry from the sciences and mathematics, and also through an interest in Japanese and Chinese poetry in translation.
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.
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