Born in 1929 / Died in 2004 / United Kingdom / English
There have been two popular subjects for poetry in the last few decades: the Vietnam War and AIDS, about both of which almost all of us have felt deeply.
Edmund White said he thought coming out in public was good for any writer's work. It was for mine, because the subject matter is so much greater.
I was writing about things that matter to me - about the people disappearing all around me.
Donald Davie was someone whom I got to know shortly before his death. He was consistently supportive, very kind to me, but he was very against queers.
My old teacher's definition of poetry is an attempt to understand.
I don't think of sex as a self-destructive impulse.
I wrote that poem about the death of one of my best friends who died of AIDS. It was very sudden and very violent.
When I first started teaching at Berkeley in 1958, I could not announce that I was gay to anybody, though probably quite a few of my fellow teachers knew.
Ginsberg's Collected Poems contains a wonderful poem about making it with Neal Cassady.
I try not to observe myself in the process of composing a poem because I don't want to come up with a formula, which I would then be unscrupulous in using.
I haven't written anything in four years. I'm sort of dried up.
With my creative writing students, I've taught literature more than I've taught writing courses'I just hope to make them better.
I had assumed that I would age with all my friends growing old around me, dying off very gradually one by one. And here was a plague that cut them off so early.
I was much influenced by Jean-Paul Sartre.
We learned in the university to consider Wordsworth and Keats as Romantics. They were only a generation apart, but Wordsworth didn't even read Keats's book when he gave him a copy.
I came over because I wanted to be in America with my lover-he was in the Air Force at the time.
I deliberately decided to write a kind of guide to leather bars for straight people, for people not into leather, so that people could see what it was all about.
When I first started to write, I was aware of being queer, but I didn't write about it. Queer poems would probably not have been accepted by the editors I sent them to.
I admired what my students were writing, but I think their improvement doesn't directly result from me but from being in a class, being with each other.
I was at a benefit for some imprisoned students in the '60s at San Francisco State, and there were lots of poets reading for the benefit: one was Elizabeth Bishop.
Keats originated the phrase, the egotistical sublime, about Wordsworth. They weren't part of the same movement.
Deep feeling doesn't make for good poetry. A way with language would be a bit of help.
We control the content of our dreams.
As humans we look at things and think about what we've looked at. We treasure it in a kind of private art gallery.
Any time I finish or publish a book I have periods of up to two years of not writing anything. But you know, I'm 74!
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