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)