The older I get, the more I’m inclined to have poems announce themselves through necessity, rather than seek them out or write them out of habit or obligation. Increasingly, I feel guilty about writing anything that might take up the time someone would otherwise have had free to, I don’t know — go read that Frost poem again. Besides, if a poem doesn’t half kill you I’m not convinced you’re doing it right. So when one finally does push through, it’s urgent enough to shove aside everything else. I’m a great believer in the poem being a live-streamed match report of an epiphany, not a neat forensic account of how it went down. And if there’s no intensity to the feeling you have as you write, there’s no intensity to the language either. (That doesn’t mean you won’t spend a year trying to fix it up, however. I always have to.)
- Don Paterson, answering a questionnaire from Open Book Toronto, along with the other finalists for the Griffin Prize. You can read the whole thing here.