Which is it: you can't get started unless
you're riding some current bigger than your reporting voice
or the best time to write is when you don't have much to say
and without plenty to say about everything you'll get better right
Form is very often a betrayal of reality.
Although we are initially drawn to poems by their passion and
we are convinced by the formal means invented
for their impelling motives. Every accidental crack or dent.
Not just mildly disquieted but actively repelled.
Running for the River Styx, the doors of Hell pell mell,
there must be a crack, deep and unmendable, in the poet
that the poet must forever try to mend. Or not.
While mortal poets imitate, immortal poets steal.
That's plagiarism. Fortunately the public feels
less strongly about poetry than television,
communism and aging gracefully through meditation.
Now I'm being silly. My silly indefatigable lusting,
silly sadness, silly arguing and silly trusting.
All I do not know about our nation's history, wars
and what showering the people you love with love does.
Ransacking apothegms, algorithms
and selling the loot as memes,
dissemblings. Bearing fardels
with the warrior's skull.
--with lines by Heaney, Collins, Milosz, Yeats, Eliot, James Taylor, Helen Vendler, Kay Ryan & Avedis Donabedian
-- Heaney,Seamus, RTE Radio 1, September 1997
--Collins, Billy, The Exeter News, 6 May 2005
--Milosz, Czeslaw, Partisan Review, Summer 1996
--Yeats, William Butler, "Lapis Lazuli," The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats, The Macmillan Co., 1940.
--Eliot, T.S., The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism, 1950
--Taylor, James, "Shower the People"
--Vendler, Helen, The Breaking of Style, Harvard University Press, 1995
--Ryan, Kay, The Yale Review, April 2004
--Donabedian, Avedis, interviewed by Fitzhugh Mullan, A Founder of Quality Assessment Encounters A Troubled System Firsthand, Health Affairs, January 2001, vol. 20, no. 1, 137-141.