In some ways painters have been more important in my life than writers. Painters teach you how to see""a faculty that usually isn't highly developed in poets. Whether you take a walk in the woods with a painter, or go to a museum with one, through them you notice shapes, colors, harmonies, relationships that enhance your own seeing.
from "Semele Recycled" But then your great voice rang out under the skies my name!- and all those private names for the parts and places that had loved you best. And they stirred in their nest of hay and dung. The distraught old ladies chasing their lost altar, and the seers pursuing my skull, their lost employment, and the tumbling boys, who wanted the magic marbles, and the runaway groom, and the fisherman's thirteen children, set up such a clamor, with their cries of "Miracle!" that our two bodies met like a thunderclap in midday- right at the corner of that wretched field with its broken fenceposts and startled, skinny cattle. We fell in a heap on the compost heap and all our loving parts made love at once, while the bystanders cheered and prayed and hid their eyes and then went decently about their business. And here is is, moonlight again; we've bathed in the river and are sweet and wholesome once more. We kneel side by side in the sand; we worship each other in whispers. But the inner parts remember fermenting hay, the comfortable odor of dung, the animal incense, and passion, its bloody labor, its birth and rebirth and decay.
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Poems, to me, do not come from ideas, they come from a series of images that you tuck away in the back of your brain. Little photographic snapshots. Then you get the major vision of the poem, which is like a giant magnet to which all these disparate little impressions fly and adhere, and there is the poem!
I began writing poems when I was about eight, with a heavy assist from my mother. She read me Arthur Waley's translations and Whitman and Robinson Jeffers, who have been lifelong influences on me. My father read Keats to me, and then he read more Keats while I was lying on the sofa struggling with asthma.
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