if you're troubled by being misunderstood

As far as people misreading, I don't much care. I remember a review I got, I think it was in the Village Voice, in which a woman wrote that one of my poems from 7 Years from Somewhere was very curious. The poem, "I Could Believe," is in the voice of a guy who has come back from the Spanish Civil War. This woman wrote something like, "Levine is an autobiographical poet, so it's amazing to discover that he fought in the Spanish Civil War, which ended when he was eleven." She mused over this, and then wrote, "Perhaps he's trying something different." Perhaps if I'd written in the voice of someone coming back from the American Civil War she wouldn't have missed it, but you can't be sure. If you're troubled by being misunderstood then you'd better not publish.

- Philip Levine, in interview with Harry Thomas' class at Davidson College, as published in Talking with Poets (Handsel Books, 2002). You can read the whole thing here.

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