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Do we do art, make poems, to try to escape our nightmares? Or to try to remember them? Or to conquer the dreaming bodies, the waking bodies, of other people, to have that vampiric power, like John Henry Fuseli’s nightmare creature perched on the torso of a pale, sleeping maiden? Or to harm people?
"A lot of people who come of age and go to college and suddenly discover there’s this whole world of ideas, many of them quite radical, that they just never knew existed before. So they wind up torn between the ideas themselves -- about class interests and conflict -- and they’re coming at it from this really academic way where it’s the privilege and access of the academy that allowed them to have access to those ideas in the first place."
To be transported to a newly invented world is to discover a fresh ecology of human relationships, and it’s one big reason we read. But it’s an intense pleasure too to fall into the pillow of a known and loved world.
Barbara J. King
“My job as a teacher is to try to create readers, especially poetry readers. Poetry (on the page at least) is a foreign language to most young people. Of course, there are always a few who get interested. When they say they’re changing their major from Bioengineering to Writing, as one did the other day, I think, ‘My God, what have I done?’ Sometimes I wish I had a job where I could be quiet, maybe as a jeweler cutting stones. But if poets don’t pass on the enthusiasm for poetry, who will? There aren’t many scholars doing that these days.”
"I do play a lot with metaphors throughout book. I play with the question of fiction. Here’s a work in which I study activists who lived during that period, but I myself didn’t ‘live San Francisco’ like these characters. Who can say what is fact, what is fiction? Some told me versions that were exaggerations, but they were great stories. Some left large gaps, so I had to imagine what happened. It’s a big fake book, but fiction can be more truthful in many ways."