Being Poet Laureate made me realize I was capable of a larger voice. There is a more public utterance I can make as a poet.
If they don't read, if they don't love reading; if they don't find themselves compulsively reading, I don't think they're really a writer.
In working on a poem, I love to revise. Lots of younger poets don't enjoy this, but in the process of revision I discover things.
There are distinct duties of a poet laureate. I plan a reading series at the Library of Congress and advise the librarian. The rest is how I want to promote poetry.
I try to show what it is about language and music that enthralls, because I think those are the two elements of poetry.
Have you ever heard a good joke? If you've ever heard someone just right, with the right pacing, then you're already on the way to poetry. It's about using words in very precise ways and using gesture.
Instead of trying to come up and pontificate on what literature is, you need to talk with children, to teachers, and make sure they get poetry in the curriculum early.
The poetry that sustains me is when I feel that, for a minute, the clouds have parted and I've seen ecstasy or something.
I think reading Shakespeare's plays when I was young was extremely important. He had the ability to make utter strangers come alive.
One definition of eternity is that we are not alone on this planet, that there are those who've gone before and those who will come, and that there is a community of spirits.
I loved to read, but I always thought that the dream was too far away. The person who had written the book was a god, it wasn't a person.
I was appointed Poet Laureate. It came totally out of the blue because most Poet Laureates had been considerably older than I. It was not something that I even had begun to dream about!
If we really want to be full and generous in spirit, we have no choice but to trust at some level.
Going to the library was the one place we got to go without asking for permission. And they let us choose what we wanted to read. It was a feeling of having a book be mine entirely.
I think children have talent and insight, but it gets beaten out of them.
You have to imagine it possible before you can see something. You can have the evidence right in front of you, but if you can't imagine something that has never existed before, it's impossible.
I have a high guilt quotient. A poem can go through as many as 50 or 60 drafts. It can take from a day to two years-or longer.