Quotation by Stephen Dunn

The bad lover, like the bad poet, perhaps because of a preoccupation with self, is essentially inattentive, doesn't listen, doesn't anticipate. Or, just as bad, proceeds by rote, first this thing and then the next, and therefore leaves no opportunity for discovery, or departure. Form to me implies an alertness to the demands of your material and an orchestration of effects. It is some happy combination of the poet's intent and the poem's esprit and the necessary compromises between the two. We can't be too willful, but we must have things in mind. We don't want to be the wimps of our own poems, but we'd be happy to be led into some lovely places. And we'd like to have some control after we lose control, at least enough to throw light on what has just hap pened, perhaps even to articulate what it has meant to us. And of course there are moments when we'd be better off being appreciatively silent.
Stephen Dunn (b. 1939), U.S. poet, essayist. "Alert Lovers, Hidden Sides, and Ice Travelers," Walking Light: Essays and Memoirs, Norton (1993).
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