“You ask whether I should continue to write if no one but myself would ever see my work. There is no reason to believe that anyone will ever see any more of my work…We are likely to give many incorrect explanations for what we do instinctively. It is very easy for me to say that I write poetry in order to formulate my ideas and to relate myself to the world. That is why I think I write it, though it may not be the right reason. That being so, I think that I should continue to write poetry whether or not anybody ever saw it, and certainly I write lots of it that nobody ever sees. We are all busy thinking things that nobody ever knows about.”-–Wallace Stevens in a letter to editor Ronald Lane Latimer, from Letters of Wallace Stevens
We write because it’s what we do. We don’t write because it’s going to be published or win awards or get a million reviews. We write because we’re writers.
I’m thrilled it’s April and not just because it brings us in Boston one step closer to warm weather. April is also National Poetry Month, which is a great excuse to share favorite poems and celebrate all things poetry-related.
When I was a teen, we’d get to the poetry section in English class, and my teachers would talk about how special poetry is and how we were going to examine all the words and lines and phrases so carefully. As a fiction writer, I’d get all defensive and want to argue that stories take a lot of care with word choice, too, and what was so special about poetry, anyway? Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to read and write more poetry, and now I fully embrace National Poetry Month. Poems are cool, guys!
Know what else is cool? Bill Murray. Apparently he’s all about the poetry. He’s a video of Murray reading a couple of Wallace Stevens’ poems (including one of my favorites, “A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts”) as part of Poets House’s 17th Annual Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge: