I like writing disagreeable poems, or certainly don’t mind if a poem strikes someone as unpleasant. It is possible to offend people still, and my poems not infrequently do. One way to do it is to write beautifully what people don’t want to hear.
I’m drawn to writing in formally correct ways, using rhyme and strict, regular meter, but take considerable pleasure in violating those norms. I like to hear the sound of form, and I like to hear the sound of it breaking.
At least the dead don’t have to die. Everyone you see is dead, but it’s the Hamptons, so get over it. Edward, and next Dick—and now Frank—all dead. Boys, goodbye. Frank, at ninety, said on the phone he didn’t particularly want to die. Don’t try to tell Frank that his charming work won’t die. The dead don’t give a shit About their work once they die. Frank is the newcomer: I look around the lawn and there is everyone. Poirier and Said and Kermode are sipping white wine and it is summer. The fancy world of dead is having fun. Everyone is wearing summer light. They can’t tell wrong from right.
I like poems that are daggers that sing. I like poems that for all the power of the sentiments expressed, and all the power to upset and offend, are so well made that they’re achieved things. However much they upset you, they also affect you.
You loved France, you loved living there. What about England? I don’t think of you as exactly an anglophile.
I loathe England and the English but have a very good time there and many friends there. There is something about the English I find grand and superb, that I envy and that I despise. Something about English folks who are privileged drives me crazy with fury. Now, how to explain that? I’m sort of a Pound, a provincial who moves into the fancy world with a feeling of unease and awe, which lasts for about eight seconds. In the ninth second the place is mine and I’m no longer interested. I’m bored. So it is with going into a grand hotel where you haven’t been before. A perfect example, because I’ve stayed at a considerable number of grand hotels. In the first moment I’m the St. Louis boy in awe and then it’s gone, and the hotel belongs to me. I lament the loss of that feeling, that St. Louis feeling of awe, because it allows you to feel and see certain things that you can’t afterward feel and see. I want the chandelier at Claridge’s to intimidate me. It helps me see it.