I’ve still not written as well as I want to. I want to write so that the reader in Des Moines, Iowa, in Kowloon, China, in Cape Town, South Africa, can say, ‘You know, that’s the truth. I wasn’t there, and I wasn’t a six-foot black girl, but that’s the truth.’
At the time I was growing up, literature was involved with the so-called confessional poets. And I was not interested in that. I did not think that specific and personal perspective functioned well for the reader at all.
A lot of my poems either have historical sequences or other kinds of chronological grids where I’m locating myself in time. I like to feel oriented, and I like to orient the reader at the beginning of a poem.
I don’t know whether a poem has be there to help to develop something. I think it’s there for itself, for what the reader finds in it.
Nobody has ever written as many enjoyable, fun-to-read crime novels as Agatha Christie. It’s all about the storytelling and the pleasure of the reader. She doesn’t want to be deep or highbrow.
If you know what you’re talking about, or if you feel that you do, the reader will believe you.
The very concept of history implies the scholar and the reader. Without a generation of civilized people to study history, to preserve its records, to absorb its lessons and relate them to its own problems, history, too, would lose its meaning.
I would want the British reader to feel that religion in America isn’t an absurd thing – a sign of a pin head athwart a gigantic body.
I think there is a great difference, in that when the poet is reading you get the whole personality of the person, especially if he’s a good reader. Whereas a person just sitting gets what he puts into it.
Humor, for me, is really a gate of departure. It’s a way of enticing a reader into a poem so that less funny things can take place later. It really is not an end in itself, but a means to an end.