Poetry is the art of saying what you mean but disguising it.
Learning to live what you're born with is the process, the involvement, the making of a life.
I write in the first person because I have always wanted to make my life more interesting than it was.
American poetry is always about defining oneself individually,claiming one's right to be different and often to break taboos.
So, I've never been politically correct, even before that term was available to us, and I have really identified with other people who don't want to be read as just a black poet, or just a woman poet, or just someone who represents a cause, an anti-Vietnam war poet.
I think that's what poetry does. It allows people to come together and identify with a common thing that is outside of themselves, but which they identify with from the interior.
I think that great poetry is the most interesting and complex use of the poet's language at that point in history, and so it's even more exciting when you read a poet like Yeats, almost 100 years old now, and you think that perhaps no one can really top that.
I think I'm a very good reader of poetry, but obviously, like everybody, I have a set of criteria for reading poems, and I'm not shy about presenting them, so if people ask for my critical response to a poem, I tell them what works and why, and what doesn't work and why.
I have always wanted what I have now come to call the voice of personal narrative. That has always been the appealing voice in poetry. It started for me lyrically in Shakespeare's sonnets.
I'm passing on a tradition of which I am part. There's a long line of poets who went before me, and I'm another one, and I'm hoping to pass that on to other younger, or newer, poets than myself.
Sometimes the archaism of the language when it's spoken is why we are all in love with the Irish today.
Still, language is resilient, and poetry when it is pressured simply goes underground.
Other people have noticed more of an evolution than I have and so I'll try to tell you where I'm coming from and also relate it to what I think other people perceive.
PC stuff just lowers the general acceptance of good work and replaces it with bogus poetry that celebrates values that in themselves are probably quite worthy.
One, I have a wonderful publisher, Black Sparrow Press; as long as they exist, they will keep me in print. And they claim they sell very respectable numbers of my books, so I guess, and it's true, every place I go, my books are in libraries and on bookshelves.
There are rituals not structures for being a poet, drinking too much, taking too many drugs, being a lady chaser, having your nervous breakdown, being irresponsible about money.
I definitely wish to distinguish American poetry from British or other English language poetry.
I am not political as a person.
I'm perfectly happy when I look out at an audience and it's all women. I always think it's kind of odd, but then, more women than men, I think, read and write poetry.
Distinctly American poetry is usually written in the context of one's geographic landscape, sometimes out of one's cultural myths, and often with reference to gender and race or ethnic origins.
But I don't think that poetry is a good, to use a contemporary word, venue, for current events.
But I am not political in the current events sense, and I have never wanted anyone to read my poetry that way.
High and low culture come together in all Post Modern art, and American poetry is not excluded from this.
I do not read newspapers. I do not watch television. I am not interested in current events, although I will occasionally discuss them if other people want to discuss them.
I don't like political poetry, and I don't write it. If this question was pointing towards that, I think it is missing the point of the American tradition, which is always apolitical, even when the poetry comes out of politically active writers.
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