...in the business of writing what one accumulates is not expertise but uncertainties. Which is but another name for craft.
... Now to die of griefwould mean, I'm afraid, to die belatedly, while latecomersare unwelcome, particularly in the future. ...
Whether pleasant or dismal, the past is always a safe territory, if only because it is already experienced, and the species' capacity to revert, to run backward -especially in its thoughts or dreams, since there we are safe as well - is extremely strong in all of us, quite irrespective of the reality we are facing. Yet this machinery has been built into us, not for cherishing or grasping the past (in the end, we don't do either), but more for delaying the arrival of the present - for, in other words, slowing down a bit the passage of time.
I always adhered to the idea that God is time, or at least that His spirit is... In any case, I always thought that if the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the water, the water was bound to reflect it. Hence my sentiment for water, for its folds, wrinkles. and ripples, and - as I am a Northerner - for its grayness. I simply think that water is the image of time, and every New Year's Eve, in somewhat pagan fashion, I try to find myself near water, preferably near a sea or an ocean, to watch the emergence of a new helping, a new cupful of time from it.
Of all the parts of your body, be most vigilant over your index finger, for it is blame-thirsty. A pointed finger is a victim’s logo.
Try not to pay attention to those who will try to make life miserable for you. There will be a lot of those--in the official capacity as well as the self-appointed. Suffer them if you can’t escape them, but once you have steered clear of them, give them the shortest shrift possible. Above all, try to avoid telling stories about the unjust treatment you received at their hands; avoid it no matter how receptive your audience may be. Tales of this sort extend the existence of your antagonists....
Try to embrace, or let yourself be embraced by, boredom and anguish, which anyhow are larger than you. No doubt you'll find that bosom smothering, yet try to endure it as long as you can, and then some more. Above all, don't think you've goofed somewhere along the line, don't try to retrace your steps to correct the error. No, as the poet said, Believe your pain. This awful bear is no mistake. Nothing that disturbs you is. Remember all along that there is no embrace in this world that won't finally unclasp.
In general, dividing literature into prose and poetry began with the appearance of prose, for only in prose could such a division be expressed. By its nature, by its essence, art is hierarchical, automatically, and in this hierarchy, poetry stands above prose. If only because poetry is older. Poetry really is a very strange thing, because it belongs to a troglodyte as well as to a snob. It can be produced in the Stone Age and in the most modern salon, whereas prose requires a developed society, a developed structure, certain established classes, if you like. Here you could start reasoning like a Marxist without even being wrong. The poet works from the voice, from the sound. For him, content is not as important as is ordinarily believed. For a poet, there is almost no difference between phonetics and semantics. Therefore, only very rarely does the poet give any thought to who in fact comprises his audience. That is, he does so much more rarely than the prose writer.
A person sets out to write a poem for a variety of reasons: to win the heart of his beloved; to express his attitude toward the reality surrounding him, be it a landscape or a state; to capture his state of mind at a given instant; to leave - as he thinks at that moment - a trace on the earth.
One of the worst things that can happen to an artist is to perceive himself as the owner of his art, and art as his tool. A product of the marketplace sensibility, this attitude barely differs on a psychological plane from the patron's view of the artist as a paid employee.
I belong to the Russian language. As to the state, from my point of view, the measure of a writer's patriotism is not oaths from a high platform, but how he writes in the language of the people among whom he lives.
If what distinguishes us from other species is speech, then poetry, which is the supreme linguistic operation, is our anthropological - indeed, genetic - goal.
Americans have been tremendously fortunate in poetry, regarding both the quantity and quality of poetry produced. Unfortunately, it remains in schools and universities; it is not widely distributed.
To translate poetry, one has to possess some art, at the very least the art of stylistic re-embodiment.
The more one reads poetry, the less tolerant one becomes of any sort of verbosity, be that in political or philosophical discourse, be that in history, social studies or the art of fiction.
My idea is simply - is very simple - is that the books of poetry should be published in far greater volume and be distributed in far greater volume, in far more substantial manner. You can sell in supermarkets very cheaply. In paperbacks. You can sell in drugstores.
This assumption that the blue collar crowd is not supposed to read it, or a farmer in his overalls is not to read poetry, seems to be dangerous if not tragic.
Anyone who regards poetry as an entertainment, as a 'read,' commits an anthropological crime, in the first place against himself.
American poetry is this country's greatest patrimony. It takes a stranger to see some things clearly. This is one of them, and I am that stranger.
The charge frequently leveled against poetry - that it is difficult, obscure, hermetic and whatnot - indicates not the state of poetry but, frankly, the rung of the evolutionary ladder on which society is stuck.