Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity.
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.
One of the most powerful devices of poetry is the use of distortions. You can go from talking about the way a minute passes to the way a century passes, or a lifetime.
The Black Mountain poet I like most is the early Creeley. Those early poems seem very lyrical and very traditional, with a lot of voice and character.
Alchemy is the art of far and near, and I think poetry is alchemy in that way. It's delightful to distort size, to see something that's tiny as though it were vast.
Philip Larkin has a tough honesty and sense of humor that I find irresistible, as a contemporary poet.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Pound's translation of Chinese poetry was maybe the most important thing I read. Eliot a little bit later.
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.
Young writers find their first audience in little magazines, and experimental writers find their only audience there.
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.
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.
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.
Poetry, almost by definition, calls attention to its language and form.
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.
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.
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