An Interview With William Stafford Essay Research — страница 4

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lives in terms of the immediacy of their own experience, and that this is what American poetry or the poetry of any area is about. The harmonious reverberations that you get out of life. Now American poems . . . that is a different thing. Poems go in waves and schools and fads. The poems in America, if you identify them in the superficial way we have to do if we sift off from a newsstand what’s being published, are pretty largely social engagement poems and they are intellectualized and they are characterized by quite a bit of satire and bite. They are very closely linked to the topics of international affairs, commercial, surges, politics, whatever the styles of fashion are. Those interest me but somewhere underneath all this there is a greater or lesser validity of the

connection between the lives of individuals and the requirements of their daily lives, what they have to do for beans and how they feel about what they have to do for beans. Smith: Are you speaking of the yearning for originality? Stafford: That is right. There is a scramble for that. Smith: Is that superficial and will it not last? Stafford: Yes, I think actually, although it is cowardly of me to say this because I think most of what is happening is always superficial in the sense of "will it last?" It is not superficial in another sense. It happens to be the actuality of the experience at the time. Of course that is important to us; it is what it is all about. It is like the air we breathe. So poems will disappear, poets will disappear, but the harmony between the

requirements of one’s life and the possibilities for a kind of sustained community and a continuity in one’s feelings, this kind of harmony that one can sometimes achieve, that will go on for quite a number of years. I’m pretty optimistic about that. It seems to me that in our own time we have seen a larger proportion of society concerned about that interior-exterior harmony than used to exist. I believe that we used to be more lost in that mad rush for things. You know as Emerson said, "Things are in the saddle and ride mankind." They are in the saddle and they are riding mankind but more people are trying to figure out how to get things out of the saddle. Smith: Do you believe there are real social changes taking place? Stafford: I think there is a change in the

sense that more people than ever before are willing to take a risk for nonmaterial good than used to be. We used to think that material good was it. The rest was a fraud. Now we think that this harmony . . . whatever it is I am groping to say . . . is the real poetry of America. Or poetry is one manifestation of that kind of harmony. And we now feel that that is what it is all about and that to multiply things while hazarding that other is a mistake. I think that is more clear to us now than it was before. And linked to what we’ve just been saying is one of the things that probably occurs to us all as we consider putting our time and effort into some kind of activity: is the activity that one engages in as a writer important? Yes, it is. That’s what I’d say in conclusion.

That is right in the center of what, as a matter of fact, is important. From American Poetry Observed: Poets on Their Own Work. Ed. Joe David Bellamy. Copyright ? 1984 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.