‘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.
As poet laureate, I was asked to be a spokesman for literature.
The poet’s perfect expression is the token of a perfect experience; what he says in the best possible way he has felt in the best possible way, that is, completely.
When the theater gates open, a mob pours inside, and it is the poet’s task to turn it into an audience.
My focus is on the reader and that the poet’s job is not to inspire himself or herself. The poet’s job is to inspire some future reader.
Yes, you can feel very alone as a poet and you sometimes think, is it worth it? Is it worth carrying on? But because there were other poets, you became part of a scene. Even though they were very different writers, it made it easier because you were together.
And in a way, that’s been a help to me, because I take great passions for a particular poet – sometimes it lasts for many years, sometimes only for a while. This happens to everybody.
One of the ridiculous aspects of being a poet is the huge gulf between how seriously we take ourselves and how generally we are ignored by everybody else.
Then, of course, there are those sad occasions when a poet or a writer has not grown, and one has to let them go because they’re just not making headway. But we have a very clear personal relationship with the authors.