Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity.
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 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.
Some people swear by writing courses, but whether it really helps American poetry, I have doubts.
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.
Young writers only take off when they find their subjects. Since almost everyone has a family and stories about family, that is often a place to start.
The great watershed of modern poetry is French, more than English.
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.
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.
One of the biggest changes that ever occurred in my life was going from the isolation of working part-time as a house painter in Henderson County, to Cornell, where everybody was a literary person.
I seem to keep returning to my father in poems because his personality was so extreme, so driven. He did everything to excess.
I learned to impersonate the kind of person that talks about poetry. It comes from teaching, I think.
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 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.
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.
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.
It was less a literary thing than a linguistic, philosophical preoccupation... discovering how far you can go with language to create immediate, elementary experience.
I love to create interesting textures with language. You can do it as long as it seems like a discovery.
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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