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An interview between dave smith and william stafford

Dave Smith is the interviewer. Does the poet mythologize his own world in the sense that he makes the things of his world better or worse than they are? If I an interview between dave smith and william stafford think of an image for myself, instead of domesticating the world to me, I'm domesticating myself to the world. I'm writing the myth of the world, not the myth of me. You go out into the world rather than bring it into you?

I do go out into it, but in the way of permeating it. As a poet I am picking it up, though I am not making it into me; rather, I am making me into it. We are just working with images here but I don't feel as a writer that it is my function to turn experiences into manifestations an interview between dave smith and william stafford myself. Instead, I am like a reporter. I am like the electric eye.

What, then, is the role of "craft" in the writing of poetry? It occurs to me as I travel to campuses for readings that many of the people I meet have the feeling that there is a mechanical ability involved in the making of poetry.

That, especially among young poets, poetry requires a craft of them that they don't have. But that isn't the way that I see poetry. Poetry and prose to me are very close to the same thing. The distinction is not so much in the craft that's gone into it but in the way you present it to a reader.

If you say something in such a way as to ask a certain amount of attention from the reader, that's a poem. And if you don't alert him to its being a poem and let it be prose, well then that's prose.

And prose can be every bit as complex and difficult, it seems to me, as poetry. Does this say anything about the unsuccessful poet-turned-novelist? Well there is something I don't think we are going to get at in this discussion that makes a difference.

There are some very intelligent people who just can't write a good story. It just takes something else. You have to be possessed or there is something inside you, a story, that writes itself. Do you think it is disappointing to discover you are writing about something? It is a dangerous thing to want to be a writer and to have to press so hard that in poem after poem, in page after page, you are asserting something, you are pressing to establish something.

Instead you have to go venturing along, to be willing to give it up, to give up all kinds of assertions in favor of some inner thing I can't quite identify here. It is like a development, a pre-development of what you started with. Do you experience dry periods and read as a kind of cure? I have a lot of gusto for reading, yes.

I read a lot, and all kinds of things, but not as policy, rather just because I'm addicted to reading. I just like to read. I don't experience those times when I don't have anything to write because I write whatever it is that occurs to me.

Some writers experience difficulty that may be because their standards are too high. They feel they can't write well enough. But I write anyway. I think that activity is important. Do you think that it is impossible to "go to school" on other poets when you can't get at something you want?

I don't think it is that conscious with me. For one thing I don't know what I'm trying to achieve. I just write and find out what happens.

And, besides, my reading is more in the nature of excited looking around. Do you read many of the new books of poems? Well I read a lot of poems but I do read them fast. So that each time is like a little recognition. Just to see how it goes really. And I neither feel greatly an interview between dave smith and william stafford by nor turned off by the poems. I just feel a kind of comfortable cordiality in my reading. That the only great man is the man who is naive because he can still be delighted with and surprised by the world?

Yes, I like that. I like that idea. Because the contrary attitude of feeling that you have solved things beforehand seems a false stance. That is, what unfolds from time cannot be anticipated and the naive stance toward it is the only realistic stance to take. You don't know what's going to happen. I think that his distinction is that if you feel you have it solved, then you are not a writer.

But if you feel that you are exploring something that hasn't happened yet, then that's the way it is and that's what a writer does. As a graduate of the Iowa workshops, what do you think of workshops? They can be done without, I would say. But on the other hand, in my own case, I like sociability and I like to be around other writers and I like the feeling that it is OK to be a writer. And in the big society not very many people are. You may feel odd or lonesome.

Are you really doing something that normal people can do and get away with? You can go to a workshop and meet a lot of people who have similar interests and they talk about what they are reading and writing. I like workshops and though I don't think they are essential I do think they are convenient and fun and, for many people, helpful.

I don't really see any harm in them. Even in workshops you can go away and write if you want to. What of the persistent rumor that workshops turn out workshop poems? I have heard many writers say that. But it did not seem that way to me, partly because I did not think others were trying to impose their will on me.

Or their way of writing. And if you follow gently but insistently the development of what you are writing yourself then you won't be distracted by others.

  1. So that each time is like a little recognition. But many people, I think, have never experienced it at all.
  2. I'd played guitar in several little bluegrass and country bands.
  3. He puzzled over that poem for years, I think, trying to figure out a way to capture Audubon's story. The persona is out on a deep lake, fishing, at night.
  4. Indeed, I believe there are few recent American poems that have enjoyed the popularity this piece has seen. Are you speaking of the yearning for originality?
  5. It happens to be the actuality of the experience at the time.

And it is true that workshops are made up of people like people anywhere else. So, sure, they often do selfish, shortsighted, partisan things, but, on the other hand, it is hard to do without people. I don't see this as a thing wrong with workshops but with people. So you don't get away from the weaknesses we all have if you go to a workshop.

But those weaknesses aren't more prevalent at workshops than in other places. What is your reaction to cliques or groups of poets who seem to dominate what is going on in parts of the country? As a matter of fact, to find that certain groups of people like each other is a human thing. And you wouldn't want a person to erase himself every morning. No, he has a certain leaning and that is legitimate. I don't think there is anything wrong with that.

It's part of the human condition. So I think that in poetry, the writing of it, the publishing of it, the rewarding of it. It's not any kind of formal policy. It is just looking forward to what is written by someone whose work you know and like. What is your feeling about new developments in poetry, particularly with respect to deviations from more traditional forms and approaches?

What do you think of the split line? I like the idea of the longer visionary poem. I like the idea of following a hunch to see where it will take you. I like long works. Of course, I like short ones too. Whatever allows your an interview between dave smith and william stafford to reach some kind of fulfillment.

But you don't write many of the long ones do you? But I like them. Do you ever feel a weakness in not writing longer or sustained pieces? I do feel a weakness. I think that long, sustained, magnificent epic works are better than little ones.

Now about things like the split line. I don't have strong feelings about this.