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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why Write?

The Green Mountains Review has a series called "Why Write?" in which various writers are invited to answer that very question.

Here is a sampling of the reasons given by poet Stephen Dunn in his December 2011 response to "Why Write?"

It’s how I translate experience, and invent it. Both. It’s what I do when I go to my room. To go to my room.

Though I usually write in the first person, to be disinterested in self.

To have an allegiance to the poem more than any moment in it.

To get the poem in motion so that it might seem to move on its own. To be aware that the ear finds the next moment as much as my sense of purpose does. To doubt the smartest thing I find myself saying. To love the shape of a sentence as much, maybe more, than the content it bears. To take myself as seriously as the most serious artist I can imagine.

To worry when the poem seems to find its essence. That is, to worry that I’ll execute what I’ve just learned about my poem. Time, then, to give it wings.

To remember that a poem is always a compromise between the drift of language already employed and my willfulness.

What I said about play and discovery aside, most poems, in my experience, are worried into existence. Let them run wild, then make them behave.


And that's just a sampling. Check out the entire essay for more.

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