It doesn’t come naturally to me to defend these things as poems. As a concept, I see it like this: the word “poetry,” as you know, means “making,” so these are constructs in the world…. One is trying to construct something that will help us to make sense of things, and a construct, or building even, let’s say, a space, a clearing, a momentary stay against confusion (from Robert Frost’s phrase), which, when we enter, we have some clarification, however slight, and when we leave it, something, however slight, has been clarified. We have been helped in some way to make sense of the world.
So that is what poetry means to me. I need to be provoked by it. I can’t quite accept what seems to be a fairly conventional notion of poetry as that which bolsters us up in what we already know. I am less interested in that than in poetry that puts us in a difficult position and makes us think again about how things are, and that is almost an article of faith.
Another article of faith (which I touched on briefly) has to do with unknowing, and that, I think, connects it to many experiences that could be described as “spiritual” experiences, and I know you are all familiar with those, where one has a sense of giving oneself over to something beyond oneself, something one doesn’t quite understand; and only when one does that, and only in a spirit of humility, is there half a chance that one will come out the other side knowing anything at all in some minor way. So I think I am really pleased that you enter these discussions in the spirit of unknowing, because that is the spirit in which we all engage in the business of trying to write poems.