How My Mind Writes Poems

Robert Pinsky: At the airport, everybody else was listening to the clatter of CNN in the background and announcements about other flights, and I was getting some work done.  

All questions of process require an answer that begins with a very important sentence, and the sentence is:  “Everybody is different.”  Whatever way of working you name - methodical, haphazard, gets up early in the morning, sleeps all day, works at night, revises immensely, never revises at all - someone has made great work with that way.  No personality type has a monopoly on making good works of art.  So anything I say on this subject is just autobiography.  Autobiography is a genre notorious for falsehood.  

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On Living Merrily and Trusting Good Verses

The last thing a young artist should do in poetry or any other field is think about what’s in style, what’s current, what are the trends.  Think instead of what you like to read, what do you admire, what you like to listen to in music. 

The wonderful 17th Century poet, Robert Herrick, wrote a poem entitled, To Live Merrily and to Trust to Good VersesEasy to say, Robert Herrick; not always easy to do. But it’s a good slogan, I think.  

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You Learn Art by Studying Monuments of Its Own Magnificence

William Butler Yates wrote, “There is no singing school, but studying monuments of its own magnificence.” 

The best thing I know of about teaching art is in William Butler Yates’ great poem, Sailing to Byzantium.  In the first draft he said, “There is no singing school, but studying monuments of its own magnificence.” 

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Poetry is the Essence of Education

The best argument for teaching poetry is to put a three-year-old or a four-year-old and read Dr. Seuss, or Robert Louis Stevenson, and to feel how the child and you are engaging in something that’s really basic to the animal, which is passing on in these rhythmic ways, something that came from somewhere. 

The best argument for teaching poetry is to put a three-year-old or a four-year-old and read Dr. Seuss, or Robert Louis Stevenson, and to feel how the child and you are engaging in something that’s really basic to the animal, which is passing on in these rhythmic ways, something that came from somewhere. 

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