I’ve read it every day of my life since I was thirteen. It is, among the man-made artifacts, my primary source of knowledge of the stuff of this world and the next. Its limitless archive of tiny and piercing, vast and enveloping perceptions of “the way things work and move” (Keats) has forever altered and continually alters my own. It is my religion, in as much as it is an affirmation of the sacrality of all things; it brings me news from the unknown, beyond my imagination; it is a daily opportunity to talk with the dead. Bursting into sound, running through its cycles of silence and sound, ending as silence: a poem is the Hindu history of the universe.
I, for one, read contemporary American poetry every day, receive a pile of poetry books and periodicals every week, yet rarely open any book of poetry published by a major house or as part of a university press series (excepting selected/collected editions of the old or dead), any poetry book that wins a major prize, or any literary periodical with the word “Review” in the title…Consequently, I am not only ignorant of 80% of the poets discussed at the moment by scholars, wits and literati; I am utterly mystified by the mechanics of current “establishment” taste…