Most writers — poets in especial — prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy — an ecstatic intuition — and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes, at the elaborate and vacillating crudities of thought — at the true purposes seized only at the last moment — at the innumerable glimpses of idea that arrived not at the maturity of full view — at the fully matured fancies discarded in despair as unmanageable — at the cautious selections and rejections — at the painful erasures and interpolations — in a word, at the wheels and pinions — the tackle for scene-shifting — the step-ladders and demon-traps — the cock’s feathers, the red paint and the black patches, which, in ninety-nine cases out of the hundred, constitute the properties of the literary histrio.
I think all people would like to feel that they’re a necessary part of life. That they’re necessary in the world, and that life would be poorer if they weren’t in it. When you accomplish something, when you write good poetry, then I think you feel that the world would be slightly different if you weren’t in it. And that, I think, is part of what being needed is about.
I used to want to make poems as though poetry or even speech hadn’t existed before me. Now I work at the other end of the spectrum, making poems mostly out of what already exists, and somehow finding that fresher. More mysterious.
— Peter Cole, from “The Invention of Influence: A Notebook,” in Poetry. (via ecantwell)
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.