Final 5 Questions for Poets
June 13, 2014
Jonathan Hobratsch, writing in the Huffington Post, celebrated National Poetry Month by posing “5 Questions for Poets” by readers of poetry.
I’ve tried to answer each of his questions (this is the 5th and final). You can find my answers to other sets of questions, here, here, here, and here. Here’s a link to Jonathan’s original Part 5 post and the other poets’ answers: 5 Questions for Poets.
And here are my answers:
1. How hard should you work at a poem?
As hard as it takes to get the poem where it wants to go and get the author out of the way.
2. According to The Atlantic, over 50 percent of people think computers will be able to write great works of literature in 50 years. Do you hold with the majority prognostication?
Great works of literature? I doubt it. But then, when artificial intelligence takes over, great will be defined by a different standard.
3. What would poets like for undergrads to know about poetry?
Poems are pleasure, as Donald Hall wrote in “The Unsayable Said: an essay,” “Poems are pleasure first, bodily pleasure, a deliciousness of the senses. Mostly, poems end by saying something (even the unsayable) but they start as the body’s joy, like making love.” I think if students had this in mind — maybe a few teachers too — poetry would be better taught and more widely read.
4. What interests outside of literature work well with writing poetry?
Many and various interests outside literature work well with poetry, sports, romance, hiking, travel, even work. I found my work with The Nature Conservancy exposed me to so many of nature’s wonders and details that it proved a storehouse of inspiration for my poetry. But even now, when I work for a Big Four firm’s cleantech practice, I’m in one of my most productive periods. It’s all about paying attention.
5. If you were poet during a different era, when/where would you want to exist?
In a workshop long ago Gary Snyder accused me of having a 17th or 18th century sensibility as a poet. So, maybe that’s where I’d find a home. But I’m very happy where I am right here and now.