“Making Poetry” by Anne Stevenson

“You have to inhabit poetry
if you want to make it.”

And what’s “to inhabit?”

To be in the habit of, to wear
words, sitting in the plainest light,
in the silk of morning, in the shoe of night;
a feeling bare and frondish in surprising air;
familiar… rare.

And what’s “to make?”

To be and to become words’ passing
weather; to serve a girl on terrible terms,
embark on voyages over voices,
evade the ego-hill, the misery-well,
the siren hiss of publish, success, publish,
success, success, success.

And why inhabit, make, inherit poetry?

Oh, it’s the shared comedy of the worst
blessed; the sound leading the hand;
a wordlife running from mind to mind
through the washed rooms of the simple senses;
one of those haunted, undefendable, unpoetic
crosses we have to find.


Anne Stevenson, from Poems 1955 – 2005 (Bloodaxe, 2005), copyright © Anne Stevenson 2005. Found at The Poetry Archive.

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