I didn’t learn much about writing at Sarah Lawrence, but I learned a lot about the sources of poems – dreams, myth, history – from the really great teachers, Joseph Campbell, Charles Trinkhaus, Bert Loewenberg, and a young Australian anthropologist named Harry Hawthorne.
I wrote poetry off and on in high school, when I could manage to get out of gym classes and sports – using my allergies as an excuse – and climb the hill behind school till I found a nice place to settle down with a notebook and look at Spokane spread out below.
I’ve been enormously fortunate. People say, ‘How do you feel about your reputation?’ My real belief is that I have exactly the reputation I deserve… on the whole, I feel comfortable with myself.
I tell people I never got to hear Dylan Thomas read because my husband wouldn’t let me, because he thought it would be a sort of bad influence. People say, ‘And you didn’t go?’ They’re so surprised because the me they know would have gone. And I say I was very much a ‘yes, dear’ wife.
Environmental concerns and feminism are locked together. Generally, women have closer connections to the organic nature of our lives.
I began writing poems when I was about eight, with a heavy assist from my mother. She read me Arthur Waley’s translations and Whitman and Robinson Jeffers, who have been lifelong influences on me. My father read Keats to me, and then he read more Keats while I was lying on the sofa struggling with asthma.
I was raised to be a girl Michelangelo.
As I remember, the first real poem I wrote was about the wheat fields between Spokane and Pullman, to the south.
No matter how brief an encounter you have with anybody, you both change.
I discovered it was easier to carry around a pen than a piano.