This constant stream of qualia we feel in our stomachs.
The big-leafed plant lifts its wings to greet the planet’s chemistry,
the sun arrives on rooftops like a gentle stranger, rain rushes us
love to love, stop to stop, these veins of leaf, hand,
storm and stream, as if in pursuit of us and what we are becoming.
When you’re writing – when I’m writing anyway – I’m writing out of different kinds of preoccupations and obsessions, different forms of drivenness, and so you’re really hostage those while writing. I am, anyway. And it’s only when you finally take the finished thing out of the furnace that you see what it was that went into the making of the thing.
When I think about what really matters, it’s not looking at art that has made the most difference or has been most shaping of the poetry; it’s simply living as completely in the world as a politically alert creature, as someone who is both stuck in and also trying to view the historical moment. Folded into all of that, of course, whatever you see in your life.
When I came into consciousness as a writer when I was in my early 20s, I just assumed that a writer did – a poet writer did everything all at once. I would write poetry, and while writing poetry I would also write work in the world – if I could get into the world.
One of the appeals of William Carlos Williams to me is that he was many different kinds of poet. He tried out many different forms in his own way of, more or less, formlessness. He was also a poet who could be – he was a love poet, he was a poet of the natural order and he was also a political poet.
You can’t be a poet certainly of my generation and not have deep in your animal brain the comment of William Carlos Williams, no ideas except in things.
Some days, who can stare at swathes of sky,
leafage and bad-complected whale-gray streets,
tailpipes and smokestacks orating sepia exhaust,
or the smaller enthusiasms of pistil and mailbox key,
and not weep for the world’s darks on lights, lights on darks,
how its half-tones stay unchanged in their changings,
or how turning wheels and wind-trash and revolving doors
weave us into wakefulness or dump us into distraction?
I’ve spent most of my life in cities, and so I’ve always lived with the curiosity about what makes for city cultures and how peoples live in cities, how peoples anywhere manage to co-exist, the public life and the private life.
Every cliche is true, right? That’s why they’re cliches.
A lot of the stuff that I see, because it’s part of the work that I do, is look at pictures and photographs and sculpture and all the rest of that. I also spend a lot of time looking at the people on my street, and all of it simply exists in sort of this tremendous forceful wash of reality out of which comes, what I hope, are these shapely recognitions of reality, which are my poems.