As soon as something happens to us in America, everyone begins talking about healing. But before you heal, you have to mourn.
The muse, the beloved, and duende are three ways of thinking of what is the source of poetry, and all three seem to me different names or different ways to think about something that is not entirely reasonable, not entirely subject to the will, not entirely rational.
You’re shadowed by your own dream, especially as you get older, of trying to create something that will last in poetry. And so, you’re working on its behalf.
Poetry is meant to inspire readers and listeners, to connect them more deeply to themselves even as it links them more fully to others. But many people feel put off by the terms of poetry, its odd vocabulary, its notorious difficulty.
There have always been great defenses of poetry, and I’ve tried to write mine, and I think all of my work and criticism is a defense of poetry to try and keep something alive in poetry.
Our culture has become increasingly intolerant of that acute sorrow, that intense mental anguish and deep remorse which may be defined as grief. We want to medicate such sorrow away.
I think ancient cultures incorporated death into the experience of life in a more natural way than we have done. In our obsessive focus on youth, on celebrity, our denial of death makes it harder for people who are grieving to find a place for that grief.
I don’t think poetry will die, but I think that poetry does demand a certain kind of attention to language. It does demand a certain space in order to read it, and I think that space is somewhat threatened by the lack of attention that people have and the amount of time that they give to things.
The Portuguese and Galician term ‘saudade’ suggests a profoundly bittersweet nostalgia.