December 9, 1949 |
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Occupation||writer, poet, performer|
It's a big statement if you use the word 'America' in the title of your poem.
Everybody loved me running for president in '91 and '92 because they never knew a presidential candidate before.
A vote should be generative, not like business as usual, which is what voting feels like for most of us.
As a human being, I'm kind of a cheery melancholic. I have energy; I'm happy.
I wasn't afraid of being poor. I didn't want to live in a big house. I'm the perfect size for poetry. I can move around.
Evolution is not an even process. There are surges, and there are micromoments. Certainly a career as an artist is that way.
If the poetry world celebrate its female stars at the true level of their productivity and influence, poetry would wind up being a largely female world, and the men would leave.
I was like the family clown. The middle child entertaining. I was a lousy student, but interestingly, the nuns always let me write plays or do drawings, endless special projects.
I really just love reading. It's my favorite thing, performing my poems live. Reading by reading, I just kind of follow my nose.
Poetry and novels are lists of our devotions. We love the feel of making the marks as the feelings are rising and falling.
I'm using my degree. You know, I studied English and American literature in college, and now I'm an American poet.
The thing about not being historically a mainstream writer is that everyone feels like you're theirs: you're their friend.
Living in literature and love is the best thing there is. You're always home.
To be a poet, it's a challenge to do it in poverty, to do it in wealth. To do it in the academy, to do it in a relationship where you're happy. Everything changes the game. To do it in the awkward state of love, despair, dying. You just have to work it.
With Instagram, you're captioning a moment. Twitter is the caption without the image. Even if it's there, the words come first.
The only job that ever really worked for me was teaching because you are your own master once you get into the room. You just have to show up on time and talk about what you care about.
I love Canada, and I dated someone who was Canadian a few years ago, and she brought me into a deeper understanding of the greatness of the culture.
Literature is love. I think it went like this: drawings in the cave, sounds in the cave, songs in the cave, songs about us. Later, stories about us.
I've had a lifelong waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop feeling when something good happens.
I'd like to sit down with Hillary Clinton onstage and ask her about Glass Steagall and all the big banks and her own campaign contributions.
In Arlington, people would laugh at you if you tried to get people to look at your drawings or listen to your poetry. It was like you thought you were special.
Somehow, the whole idea of me writing art reviews was just too much of a complicated thought, but I liked art, and later on I just realized that it would be perhaps a pleasure, and so I decided to do it for 'Art in America' – a lot.
I made myself into a poet because it was the first thing I really loved. It was an act of will.
I'm not against wealth; I just think everybody should have it, same as health.
The poet is like the earth's shadow. The sun moves, and the poet writes something down.
In my family, I'm the middle of three, and I'm like a lot of middle children. I was one of those kids that floated from group to group. I liked being able to be included in all the groups – the bad kids, the smart kids.
If I had been a good student and an achiever, I might have been excited by a more systematic approach to writing than what I do.
Poetry from the bottom up is an act of selection: you kind of feel your way through the crowds of poems. The good ones came forward a long time ago, and the bad ones fell away.
When I'm writing the poem, I feel like I have to close my eyes. I don't mean literally, but you invite a kind of blindness, and that's the birth of the poem.
If you have a dog, and you're a person whose moods are constantly changing, there's a moment when you look at the dog, and you feel bad for them because they're attached to you, and so it's funny for the dog to vocalize those things in some ways.
The first time I voted, I voted for Eugene McCarthy and I knew he wouldn't win, but it felt so great to vote for him, to vote for the right guy – the one who wanted peace.
I'm the weird poet who has paid her dues in the experimental world for 30 or 40 years.
When somebody's in love with you, they think it's amazing you've written them a poem, and when they don't love you anymore, they hate those poems. They wish those poems would go away.
I didn't know how to write a novel, so I sort of let it happen in waves. The only way I could write it was to think like scenes in a movie.
Certainly in the arts, in all genres, I think that men should step away. I think men should stop writing books. I think men should stop making movies or television. Say, for 50 to 100 years.
Lyndon Johnson, I know for a fact, was a great president. And I don't mean by that he was a great man.
I started writing poems, and when I first tried prose, I wrote bad articles and essays and columns, and I didn't have a handle on it. I didn't go to a school that really taught you how to write that stuff.
I've grown to love Barack Obama. Hillary is no Bernie Sanders. But she's a politician, and she understands Congress. And I think with that kind of twisted beauty, she could lead our country.
Sunday is a likely day to write a poem. Because poetry is a piece of language flying around: you'll find notebooks, something on your phone. It's about finding them and getting them off that crumpled piece of paper and onto my computer.
Weirdly, the past starts to be about something else. It becomes about style in a way that it wasn't about, and I don't mean writing style, but cultural style.
Having big audiences when you're on a book tour is like Valhalla if you're a person who used to sell Girl Scout cookies on the side. Because you want to give the reading that will sell the most books.
Dogs are a companion species. It's about time – you have an animal for about 15, 16 years, a generation. That time holds so much. You might have had five or six relationships with human beings but one dog.
Fred Moten is a poet I really love because he changes who is telling the poem all the time.