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I encourage students to pursue an idea far enough so they can see what the cliches and stereotypes are. Only then do they begin to hit pay dirt.
I don't think the creative writing industry has helped American poetry.
I don't think poetry is something that can be taught. We can encourage young writers, but what you can't teach them is the very essence of poetry.
I don't think American poetry has gotten any better in the past 35 years. Oddly enough, creative writing programs seem to have been good for fiction, and I would not have predicted that.
I did not have a very literary background. I came to poetry from the sciences and mathematics, and also through an interest in Japanese and Chinese poetry in translation.
I considered going to film school; I took a course in film and was very interested in filmmaking as well as film writing.
Fiction is about intimacy with characters, events, places.
Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity.
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.
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.
A poem in form still has to have voice, gesture, a sense of discovery, a metaphoric connection, as any poetry does.
A lot of my students are Asian-American, and it has been thrilling to watch them break through the stereotypes into something alive and surprising.
Philip Larkin has a tough honesty and sense of humor that I find irresistible, as a contemporary poet.
All I Want Is You
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