If people associate me with a region, that's fine with me.
Some people swear by writing courses, but whether it really helps American poetry, I have doubts.
Some people want to call me an Appalachian writer, even though I know some people use regional labels to belittle.
The young people have MTV and rock and roll. Why would they go to read poetry? Poetry belongs to the Stone Age. It awakens in us perceptions that go back to those times.
We have a lot of long narrative poems written in the 20th century, but they're not very well known, and they're not read by very many people.
When you have an idea for a story, you want those characters to reach as many people as you can. I think you normally think of prose as a way of doing that. It fits our time, the culture.
I write as a way of keeping myself going. You build your life around writing, and it's what gets you through. So it's partly just curiosity to see what you can do.
One of the biggest changes that ever occurred in my life was going from the isolation of working part-time as a house painter in Henderson County, to Cornell, where everybody was a literary person.
Alchemy is the art of far and near, and I think poetry is alchemy in that way. It's delightful to distort size, to see something that's tiny as though it were vast.
The idea of avant-garde art is a very suspicious thing to me, the idea that poetry is new and it keeps being new the way Chevrolets every year are new.
The Language Poets are writing only about language itself. The Ashbery poets are writing only about poetry itself. That seems to me a kind of dead end.
I love to compare different time frames. Poetry can evoke the time of the subject. By a very careful choice of words you can evoke an era, completely throw the poem into a different time scale.
One of the most powerful devices is to distort time, to go from human time to atomic time, geologic time. Sometimes you can actually accomplish that, with one unexpected word choice.
The best books of our times have included the three mature volumes of Philip Larkin. They're very short books of poems, and very carefully arranged.
In the later books I am much more at home in the use of language to describe things. I had never thought of that until a critic pointed that out.