Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Teaching writing over the years intrudes on your own writing in important ways, taking away some of the excitement of poetry.
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.
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.
Poetry, almost by definition, calls attention to its language and form.
The decision to write in prose instead of poetry is made more by the readers than by writers. Almost no one is interested in reading narrative in verse.
The fact that something is in a rhymed form or in blank verse will not make it good poetry.
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.
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.
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 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.
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