One of the most powerful devices is to distort time, to go from human time to atomic time, geologic time. Sometimes you can actually accomplish that, with one unexpected word choice.
I love chapbooks. They’re in some ways the ideal form in which to publish and read poems. You can read 19 poems in a way you can’t sit down and read 60 to 70 pages of poems.
I write as a way of keeping myself going. You build your life around writing, and it’s what gets you through. So it’s partly just curiosity to see what you can do.
I seem to keep returning to my father in poems because his personality was so extreme, so driven. He did everything to excess.
A lot of my students are Asian-American, and it has been thrilling to watch them break through the stereotypes into something alive and surprising.
Some people want to call me an Appalachian writer, even though I know some people use regional labels to belittle.
In the late 60s and early 70s, I did get interested in voices, and in narration and embodying the voice, making the poem sound like a real person talking.
The Language Poets are writing only about language itself. The Ashbery poets are writing only about poetry itself. That seems to me a kind of dead end.
I did not have a very literary background. I came to poetry from the sciences and mathematics, and also through an interest in Japanese and Chinese poetry in translation.
The great watershed of modern poetry is French, more than English.