“Years ago, I was teaching poetry in a school and I ran into the father of one of my 4th grade students. I told him what a wonderful poet his daughter was. He said, yes, she loves poetry. She reads it all the time. Then he gave me this smile--is it important to note here that he was a doctor?-- and said, But don’t quit your day job! And we laughed. Except I thought, but this is my day job. In fact, it’s my only job.” (Mark Statman)
“Ginsberg came to my house one afternoon/and said he was giving up poetry/ because it told lies, that language distorts./I agreed, but asked what we have /that gets it right even that much.” (Jack Gilbert, The Lost Hotels of Paris.)
Four poets talk about their commitment to poetry, the job, to the meaning of lives spent getting it right.