Jack Gilbert:

My heart was shaped by stories, by pictures, by songs. I believe we are made by art, art that matters. Not what’s ingenious, clever, or hard to do. Not a mystery puzzle. I think if a poem doesn’t put pressure on me, I don’t feel uncomfortable in the sense of feeling more than I can feel, understanding more than I can understand, loving more than I am able to be in love. It enables me to do those things. If you try to copy an image and everything goes right, you may feel like more of a person afterwards. But I think that work of art is probably a failure. It’s nice to put a novel on paper, a painting over the couch. But I don’t want it unless it’s significant, unless it has something to do with me. If it’s just clever or entertaining or surprising, it’s a waste of time for me. I enjoy it. I do it. I read the novel, you know, the simple story line behind a mystery of who killed the cat. That’s entertaining, but that’s not what I think poetry is about. I think it’s something about putting pressure on me. If it doesn’t put pressure on the reader, what’s it for.

Leave a Reply