All of my books are based in some way on my personal experiences, or the experiences of members of my family, or the stories kids would tell me in school.
I want to see children curled up with books, finding an awareness of themselves as they discover other people’s thoughts. I want them to make the connection that books are people’s stories, that writing is talking on paper, and I want them to write their own stories. I’d like my books to provide that connection for them.
If you have a friend, things are better than if you didn’t have a friend.
I mentioned that one of the tripartite formulas in American worldview involves time: past, present, and future.
What inspired me to become an author? I think it was the snow in New York. I looked out the window and I said, ‘Well, I have to get dressed every morning to go to teach, but if I write a book, I can stay home in my bathrobe, eat candy corn.’
I have a notebook with me all the time, and I begin scribbling a few words. When things are going well, the walk does not get anywhere; I finally just stop and write.
If a student takes the whole series of my folklore courses including the graduate seminars, he or she should learn something about fieldwork, something about bibliography, something about how to carry out library research, and something about how to publish that research.
Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.
What America demands in her black champions is a brilliant, powerful body and a dull, bestial mind.
Writers must… take care of the sensibility that houses the possibility of poems.