Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity.
One of the most powerful devices is to distort time, to go from human time to atomic time, geologic time. Sometimes you can actually accomplish that, with one unexpected word choice.
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.
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.
With prose you can incorporate more details, develop scenes, sustain the tension in a special way. Prose has its own speed.
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.
Southern poets are still writing narrative poems, poems in forms, dramatic poems.
Some people want to call me an Appalachian writer, even though I know some people use regional labels to belittle.
Some people swear by writing courses, but whether it really helps American poetry, I have doubts.
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.
The fact that something is in a rhymed form or in blank verse will not make it good poetry.
Poetry, almost by definition, calls attention to its language and form.
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.
Part of what we love about poetry is the fact that it seems ancient, that it has an authority of ancient language and ancient form, and that it's timeless, that it reaches back.
Teaching writing over the years intrudes on your own writing in important ways, taking away some of the excitement of poetry.
The idea of avant-garde art is a very suspicious thing to me, the idea that poetry is new and it keeps being new the way Chevrolets every year are new.
Neither of my parents has been very sensitive about my writing.
Maybe the example of Southern fiction writing has been so powerful that Southern poets have sort of keyed themselves to that.
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.
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.
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.
I love to create interesting textures with language. You can do it as long as it seems like a discovery.
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.
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