Writing or making anything—a poem, a bird feeder, a chocolate cake—has self-respect in it. You're working. You're trying. You're not lying down on the ground, having given up.
Monday, September 3, 2012
Monday, August 20, 2012
How shifty a thing taste can be, how shitty, even one's own. I tremble to remember the poets, like Elizabeth Bishop, I dismissed out of hand, whose greatness dawned on me only later. Then there are poets I once admired and who opened the way through thickets for me, but whose work now I find clumsy and shiftless. I think we all tend to believe we can see through the vagaries of our moment to some absolute standard of judgment—this must be a characteristic of human consciousness itself—but the conviction is absurd. So, I never blab anymore about poets whose work doesn't or no longer moves me. But there are, however, thank goodness, poets the power and force of whose work once nearly knocked me down with delight and envy, and still does, so that when I read them again I feel again like an apprentice.
Here's the whole lecture:
Monday, July 23, 2012
[T]he lesson is always the same, and young poets recognize this to be one of the most important lessons they can learn: If you have any idea for a poem, an exact grid of intent, you are on the wrong path, a dead-end alley, and the top of a cliff you haven't even climbed. This is a lesson that can only be learned by trial and error.
—Mary Ruefle, in her essay "On Beginnings,"
in Words Overflown by Stars: Creative Writing Instruction and Insight from the Vermont College of Fine Arts M.F.A. Program,
edited by David Jauss
Monday, June 18, 2012
I think "inspiration" is what happens, if you’re lucky, during the rather dull and arduous process of writing a poem. You’re plugging away, nothing of much interest is going on, you’re thinking this one’s going to be a dud—then, bingo! Something nice and surprising happens, the poem suddenly comes alive, sits up on the table, and demands something to eat. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s great when it does.
Monday, June 11, 2012
If you think of an image as a jumping-off point, you can do so much. The poem isn’t hermetic, it’s reaching out. The first poem in Figures in a Landscape, about the hermit crab, isn’t really about a hermit crab. It has marine information, tarot, and Aristotle, but it’s really about loneliness. Hermit crabs are a little horrifying, really. Often they’re not alone in the shells they borrow, they don’t have their own, and sometimes when they outgrow their shell they bring its previous owner with them. That’s pretty complicated, isn’t it? You don’t have to write the connection between them and us. It’s all there.
Posted by kt at 2:46 PM