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Under adversity, under oppression, the words begin to fail, the easy words begin to fail. In order to convey things accurately, the human being is almost forced to find the most precise words possible, which is a precondition for literature.
To write for PC reasons, because you think you ought to be dealing with this subject, is never going to yield anything that is really going to matter to anyone else. It has to matter to you.
There are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.
There are distinct duties of a poet laureate. I plan a reading series at the Library of Congress and advise the librarian. The rest is how I want to promote poetry.
The sound of the mandolin is a very curious sound because it's cheerful and melancholy at the same time, and I think it comes from that shadow string, the double strings.
The poetry that sustains me is when I feel that, for a minute, the clouds have parted and I've seen ecstasy or something.
The joy of working at something to find out what it means to me is what I grew up with.
The American Dream is a phrase we'll have to wrestle with all of our lives. It means a lot of things to different people. I think we're redefining it now.
Rap is only one end of a whole spectrum of verbal play and virtuosity. Rap is geared for aural pleasure.
Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.
People write me from all over the country, asking me, and sometimes even telling me, what they think a poet laureate should do. I found that immensely valuable.
One definition of eternity is that we are not alone on this planet, that there are those who've gone before and those who will come, and that there is a community of spirits.
My favorite poets may not be your bread and butter. I have more favorite poems than favorite poets.
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