“I don’t mean to say that academia is this evil force (laughs), but many of us have had experiences in school that suggest to us that we need an interpreter to read poetry. People are always saying to me, ‘Ok, here is a poem by Robert Frost. Where is the symbol? What is the theme?’ Well, I really don’t know a poet who writes like that! It was a function of modernism to make us believe that the poem was a riddle that one had to solve – that the poet was keeping something from us – and that if we could just figure out the symbol and the theme, we would get the poem. So often I will be sitting on an airplane and someone asks me, ‘Well, what do you do?’ I tell them I’m a writer. ‘What do you write?’ And I’m very reluctant to say poetry, because often what follows next is ‘Oh, I don’t get poetry.’


remember after 9/11, when those big sheets of cloth went up in Washington Square and Union Square, and people put up the missing posters, and poems, and all sorts of personal messages. Remember those big sheets? MM: Sure. MH: I remember being so moved by those weeks when those sheets were up and everyone – all different kinds of people – stood side-by-side, reading what had been written there. In the morning, in the afternoon, in the night, people stood there reading. What they were looking for, and what they found there, was poetry. We’re so hungry for what poetry offers us.

it is simply not ‘commodifiable.’ Materially speaking, it’s worthless in this culture. There’s very, very little money to be made from writing poetry. In that way, it’s subversive since anyone can steal it. Anyone can take it. Anyone can learn it by heart. Anyone can whisper it, can carry it into a jail, through borders, across all sorts of state lines. Poetry is that which can be carried anywhere. It’s invisible. And that makes it very, very precious

a poet wants you to learn his or her poem by heart. They want you to copy it. They want you to steal their work. There’s no greater pleasure than knowing that somebody has taped your poem to the refrigerator door or sent it to five friends.

my brother had died that summer. Stanley asked me how I was doing, and I said, ‘I feel as if something has me in its mouth and it’s chewing me. ’ And he said, ‘It is. And you must wait to see who you’ll be when it’s done with you.’ It was the most comforting thing anyone said to me. Because what he was implying was that I was undergoing a critical, essential transformation.

So many dear friends would say, ‘Oh, I wish I could take it away from you’ or ‘Oh, I wish I could make it better.’ And I didn’t want anything to be made better. You know about this, Mark, you’ve written books about it. One doesn’t want anything to be taken away. But you don’t know how to necessarily negotiate it, either.” – MARIE HOWE, excerpts http://ift.tt/1G8Lp8d


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