I have lectured at Town Hall N.Y., The Library of Congress, Harvard, Yale, Amherst, Wellesley, Columbia, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana State University, Colorado, Stanford, and scores of other places.
I grew up in the prolonged survival of the great age of the horse, with harness and saddle and sleigh bells and horse pictures, not as antiques but the facts of our lives.
Verse is not written, it is bled; Out of the poet's abstract head. Words drip the poem on the page; Out of his grief, delight and rage.
Contrary to slanderous Eastern opinion, much of Iowa is not flat, but rolling hills country with a lot of timber, a handsome and imaginative landscape, crowded with constant small changes of scene and full of little creeks winding with pools where shiners, crappies and catfish hover.
Every Christmas should begin with the sound of bells, and when I was a child mine always did. But they were sleigh bells, not church bells, for we lived in a part of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where there were no churches.
I began to write poetry in high school, and would ride miles over sandy roads in the fine hills around Cedar Rapids, repeating the lines over and over until I had them right, making some of the rhythm of the horse help.
The sharpest memory of our old-fashioned Christmas eve is my mother's hand making sure I was settled in bed.
There must be an alternative between Hollywood and New York, between those two places psychically as well as geographically. The University of Iowa tries to offer such a community, congenial to the young writer, with his uneasiness about writing as an honorable career, or with his excess of ego about calling himself a writer.
Our small ears never had such a workout as on the Fourth of July, hearing not only our own bursting crackers but also those of our friends, and often the boom of homemade cannon shot off by daring boys of 16 years, ready to lose a hand if it blew up.
I had been warned about Jews by my gentile friends - they did terrible things with knives to boys.
You come to know the aches and vanities and tastes and intrigues of an entire neighborhood at a drug store.
For my Oxford degree, I had to translate French and German philosophy (as it turned out, Descartes and Kant) at sight without a dictionary. That meant Germany for my first summer vacation, to learn the thorny language on my own.
The corncob was the central object of my life. My father was a horse handler, first trotting and pacing horses, then coach horses, then work horses, finally saddle horses. I grew up around, on, and under horses, fed them, shoveled their manure, emptied the mangers of corncobs.
Without vision you don't see, and without practicality the bills don't get paid.
All families had their special Christmas food. Ours was called Dutch Bread, made from a dough halfway between bread and cake, stuffed with citron and every sort of nut from the farm - hazel, black walnut, hickory, butternut.