On perspectives about poetry
I think people both within and outside of the literary community (if there is such a thing) have the misconception that poetry should be a certain way or it’s no good… or even objectionable. That both readers and writers of poetry fail to be capacious and generous in their reading is a double-failure, and goes a long way to perpetuating myths of poetry’s death/making nothing happen/lack of relevance, and so on. Even people who aren’t bigots in real life let their prejudices get the better of them when it comes to poetry. I suppose it’s natural for people to want to envelop themselves in writing that affirms what they already believe or know, but it ought to put one in touch with those who are actually different from us.
What is poetry? I have no simple answer to that, I’m sorry to say! I don’t even have a complex answer. There’s no way to take poetry out of my life, which must mean that it’s somehow essential to my existence. But why this is so and how it got to be that way is a mystery to me. And it’s a mystery that doesn’t need to be solved.
On public opinions about editing
I know what people say when they write letters to the editor or comment in social media, or when I meet readers here and there. But there’s no single answer, happily. There are as many opinions as there are readers, which is as it should be.
I’m sure there are things other people wish I hadn’t published. But that’s all I can say!
Don Share is Editor of Poetry magazine. His most recent book of poems is Union (Eyewear Publishing). In 2015 he was the recipient of the “VIDO” Award (from VIDA: Women in Literary Arts) for his contributions to American literature and the literary community.
In Two Weeks: Valerie Wetlaufer of Adrienne: A poetry journal of queer women.