Philip Levine on His Poetic Process

Interview excerpt from The Paris Review:

I happen to believe Keats was right when he said the poet is the least poetical of beings, and that he or she must be ready to inhabit whatever the world presents, be free to “pick about the gravel with the sparrows….  I’m so weary of that anti-intellectual stance: I’m just standing here suckin’ on a beer writin’ these lines until the pool room opens. I love intelligent poetry.


I know a lot of people memorize their poems and give readings from memory, but I try to forget mine. I find that makes the readings more interesting for me; I’m often actually surprised by the phrasing, really quite delighted by it. Also, I don’t want to sit down and write my own poems again; I want my mind clear of them. At my age the big danger for a poet is that he’s going to rewrite his own work. One can feel very secure doing another version of what already worked.

Read the full here.


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