As a student of literature and a great fan of Walt Whitman and others in the American tradition, I have wondered at times if there is much relevance to being considered an “American Poet” in this modern age. Personally, I prefer to be known, not so much as an American Poet, or a Gay Poet, or even a Father Poet (a term which my youngest son finds delightfully silly, as if his dad were some sort of poetical priest).
I prefer to simply be a Poet, and leave it at that. Whatever comes of it will be inexorably linked with my various experiences as a human being. If I were inclined to write a poem with a specifically political message, I suppose I would be deserving of the title “American Poet,” but I find myself thinking much as W.S. Merwin did when he wrote this response to the question over a decade ago. (via Poetry Society of America)
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I liked the Merwin piece. Along a similar vein, I’ve been asked — but only by Southerners — if I consider myself a “Southern” writer… as if attaching that label to myself would somehow grant my writing a certain legitimacy (well, I guess in the eyes of some readers, it would).
Oh, what a thrill to hear from you again, my lovely poet-wench! Where hast thou been and dost thee and thine intelli-offspring fare?