Poetry is a form of necessary speech... I have sought to restore the aura of sacred practice that accompanies true poetic creation, to honor both the rational and the irrational elements of poetry.
Anyone who has lost a child will tell you that they don't recover their sense of endless possibility. Some people hide that well. But after a certain age, almost everyone is carrying something like that around, I suppose.
The idea that a poem was a made thing stayed with me, and I decided then that I wanted to be an artist, not just a diarist. So I put myself through a kind of apprenticeship in writing poetry, and I understood even then that my practice as a poet was deeply related to my reading.
The Portuguese and Galician term 'saudade' suggests a profoundly bittersweet nostalgia.
'Liberty Brass' is a small machine that unfolds in a single unpunctuated wave, which is interrupted by the rotating sign, the refrain. Each part is meant to do its work in relentless progression.
James Salter is a consummate storyteller. His manners are precise and elegant; he has a splendid New York accent; he runs his hands through his gray hair and laughs boyishly.
The sole literary presence from my childhood was my grandfather, a Jewish immigrant from Latvia, who eccentrically copied poems into the backs of his books. After he died, when I was 8 years old, my grandmother gave his books away, and his poems were lost.
I've been fascinated over the years by the way refrains work. Think, say, of the refrains in Yeats' ballads. Ideally, each time the refrain comes back in a poem, it is both the same and different. It works by counterpoint and reiteration. It accrues meaning.
When I taught at the University of Houston in the Creative Writing program, we required the poets to take workshops in fiction writing, and we required the fiction writers to take workshops in poetry.
Daydreaming is one of the key sources of poetry - a poem often starts as a daydream that finds its way into language - and walking seems to bring a different sort of alertness, an associative kind of thinking, a drifting state of mind.
One of the things that distinguishes poetry from ordinary speech is that in a very few number of words, poetry captures some kind of deep feeling, and rhythm is the way to get there. Rhythm is the way the poetry carries itself.
I didn't read poetry seriously until college, when I really began to devour it in a very intense way. I also discovered that a poet is a maker. Before that, I thought a poet was someone who wrote about his own experiences.
The muse, the beloved, and duende are three ways of thinking of what is the source of poetry, and all three seem to me different names or different ways to think about something that is not entirely reasonable, not entirely subject to the will, not entirely rational.
The terms of poetry - some simple, some complicated, some ancient, some new - should bring us closer to what we're hearing, enlarging our experience of it, enabling us to describe what we're reading, to feel and think with greater precision.
Fresh or changing conditions ferment fresh forms.
The line is a way of framing poetry. All verse is measured by lines. The poetic line immediately announces its difference from everyday speech and prose.
I think ancient cultures incorporated death into the experience of life in a more natural way than we have done. In our obsessive focus on youth, on celebrity, our denial of death makes it harder for people who are grieving to find a place for that grief.
Poets have always celebrated grief as one of the deepest human emotions.
I find great consolation in having a lot of poetry books around. I believe that writing poetry and reading it are deeply intertwined. I've always delighted in the company of the poets I've read.
I love the leisurely amplitude, the spaciousness, of taking a walk, of heading somewhere, anywhere, on foot. I love the sheer adventure of it: setting out and taking off.