My own journey in becoming a poet began with memory – with the need to record and hold on to what was being lost. One of my earliest poems, ‘Give and Take,’ was about my Aunt Sugar, how I was losing her to her memory loss.
It took me years of attempts and failed drafts before I finally wrote the elegies I needed to write.
If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done.
Everything in my life affects my writing. There are no separate parts of my life.
Don’t get involved in partial problems, but always take flight to where there is a free view over the whole single great problem, even if this view is still not a clear one.
Philosophy is not a theory but an activity.
‘Memory.’ ‘Race.’ ‘Murder.’ That’s what they say about me. I am an elegiac poet. I have some historical questions, and I’m grappling with ways to make sense of history; why it still haunts us in our most intimate relationships with each other, but also in our political decisions.
When I’m actually writing by hand, I get more of a sense of the rhythm of sentences, of syntax. The switch to the computer is when I actually start thinking about lines. That’s the workhorse part. At that point, I’m being more mathematical about putting the poem on the page and less intuitive about the rhythm of the syntax.
My mother and my father divorced during the time that my father was getting his Ph.D. at Tulane.
I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.