I have frequently noticed in myself a tendency to a diffuse style; a disposition to push my metaphors too far, employing a multitude of words to heighten the patness of the image, and so making of it a conceit rather than a metaphor, a fault copiously illustrated in the poetry of Cowley, Waller, Donne, and others of that ilk.
The Vietnam War and the Iraq war, in different ways, both made me feel like I could not not address them. I’m very doubtful about the usefulness of poetry to do that.
Poetry offers works of art that are beautiful, like paintings, which are my second favorite work of the art, but there are also works of art that embody emotion and that are kind of school for feeling. They teach how to feel, and they do this by the means of their beauty of language.
If I don’t write down a thought – or an image or a line of poetry – the instant it comes to mind, it vanishes, which explains why I have pens and notebooks in my pants and coat pockets, the car, the bicycle basket, on one or two desks in every room including bathrooms and the kitchen.
I have always used a great variety of verse forms, especially in my poetry for children. I believe that poetry begins in childhood and that a poet who can remember his own childhood exactly can, and should, communicate to children.
I realized poetry’s the thing that I can do ’cause I can stick at it and work with tremendous intensity.
We read Robert Browning’s poetry. Here we needed no guidance from the professor: the poems themselves were enough.
There’s not a good poet I know who has not at the beck and call of his memory a vast quantity of poetry that composes his mental library.
That’s a wonderful change that’s taken place, and so most poetry today is published, if not directly by the person, certainly by the enterprise of the poet himself, working with his friends.
I was a victim of a stereotype. There were only two of us Negro kids in the whole class, and our English teacher was always stressing the importance of rhythm in poetry. Well, everybody knows – except us – that all Negroes have rhythms, so they elected me class poet.