I remember looking at James Joyce’s journals. It was just amazing – it looked like ants had written on the page. So much writing on one page, every corner of the page was filled. Some of the lines were underlined in yellow or blue or red. A lot of color, intense writing.
I wanted to write the kind of poetry that people read and remembered, that they lived by – the kinds of lines that I carried with me from moment to moment on a given day without even having chosen to.
I have for many years interested myself in the study of children from three years upwards. Many have urged me to continue my studies on the same lines with older children. But what I have felt to be most vital is the need for more careful and particularized study of the tiny child.
If you’re supposed to be doing something, the spirits will come and help you. They have helped me out with lines I shouldn’t have known, chords I shouldn’t have known. Every once in a while I get lines from somewhere, and I think, I better write this down.
Arrogant, I think I have written lines which qualify me to be The Poetess of America (as Ted will be The Poet of England and her dominions).
Poetry is a vocal art for me – but not necessarily a performative one. It might be reading to oneself or recalling some lines by memory.
Poems, for me, begin as a social engagement. I want to establish a kind of sociability or even hospitality at the beginning of a poem. The title and the first few lines are a kind of welcome mat where I am inviting the reader inside.
My first serious attempts at writing were made in 1868, and I took up two very different lines of composition; I wrote some short stories of a very flimsy type, and also a work of a much more ambitious character, ‘The Lives of the Black Letter Saints.’