rob mclennan: What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?
stephanie roberts: My answer is paradoxical. The writer shouldn't give a fuck about their role in culture, and their role is vital. The role of the poet is to, as much as possible, be themselves intensely and remain themselves. Not to say who we are is static. I think the healthy psyche is subject to the same pressures [as] on a caterpillar to become butterfly.
Wallace Stevens believed that poetry achieves more for the knowledge of human nature than history. In an essay on poetry and the imagination, he looked to Swiss historian Jakob Burckhardt for affirmation, "Burckhardt considers the status of poetry at various epochs, among various peoples and classes, asking each time who is singing or writing, and for whom. Poetry is the voice of religion, prophecy, mythology, history, national life and inexplicably, for [Burckhardt], of literature." I tend to agree.