"As a teacher you are more or less obliged to pay the same amount of attention to everything. That can wear you down."
"As an editor, I continually felt honored by the work I was doing. Putting together a journal is essentially compiling an anthology, and inviting the reader to contrast and compare, to consider the way the juxtapositions play off each other."
"Clearly, once the student is no longer a student the possibilities of relationship are enlarged."
"Community means people spending time together here, and I don't think there's really that."
"Editing a journal is a different kind of engagement. You are free to engage yourself only with the work that first engages you, whether it's by someone by whom nobody has yet read a line, or by Adrienne Rich or Hayden Carruth."
"Everyone thinks they're going to write one book of poems or one novel."
"For me, editing can be frustrating, but invigorating - something I love to do. Until I was editor of The Kenyon Review, it was mostly something I did without pay, a habit I had to feed by doing other work."
"From here you can still walk almost everywhere. In a reasonable amount of time you can be at the canal, in Belleville or Menilmontant, at Pere Lachaise, across the river in the 5th, or 6th. In 15 minutes on foot you're entirely elsewhere."
"Given the devaluation of literature and of the study of foreign languages per se in the United States, as well as the preponderance of theory over text in graduate literature studies, creative writing programs keep literature courses populated."
"Good writing gives energy, whatever it is about."
"I consciously wanted to be the editor of a literary magazine, which I was on several occasions, most notably at the Kenyon Review from 1990-1994, and which is perhaps related to teaching."
"I do have a degree in French literature, though living a language and writing term papers in it are different experiences!"
"I don't know whether a poem has be there to help to develop something. I think it's there for itself, for what the reader finds in it."
"I don't think it's by accident that I was first attracted to translating two French women poets."
"I first encountered Venus Khoury-Ghata's work in an anthology on which I was asked to write a reader's report in 1998. Her poems fascinated me, and I sought out more, translated one."
"I have experienced healing through other writers' poetry, but there's no way I can sit down to write in the hope a poem will have healing potential. If I do, I'll write a bad poem."
"I haven't been working yet with poets who are doing strictly rhymed and metered forms, of which there aren't many contemporaries, though there are some, and not negligible ones. I admire Jacques Roubaud's sonnets and Jacques Reda's rhymed and metered urban landscape poems."
"I lived in the studio apartment that I bought for four years before I bought it in 1989, so I was already in it. I began living there in 1985, so I've had the same address and phone number since then."
"I started to send my work to journals when I was 26, which was just a question of when I got the courage up. They were mostly journals I had been reading for the previous six or seven years."
"I tend to use iambic pentameter instead of the Alexandrine, which sounds odd in English, which is more abbreviated than French anyway. It's a pleasant challenge, and it's an interesting form."
"I think it's curious that there are Americans who I never see in the states because we're a million miles away from each other, like Carolyn Kizer and Sandra Gilbert, but I see them here, because when we're here we're neighbors."
"I think there is something about coming to a city to work that puts you in touch with it in a different way."
"I try to write everyday. I do that much better over here than when I'm teaching. I always rewrite, usually fairly close-on which is to say first draft, then put it aside for 24 hours then more drafts."
"I wonder what it means about American literary culture and its transmission when I consider the number of American poets who earn their living teaching creative writing in universities. I've ended up doing that myself."
"I worked at all kinds of jobs, mostly commercial editing."
"I wouldn't recommend that anyone go to university at 15. It really is like giving a fifty-dollar bill to a child and turning her loose in a Godiva chocolate shop."
"I'm addicted to email, but other than that, there are practical things - being able to buy a book on the internet that you can't find in your local bookshop. This could be a lifeline if you live further from the sources."
"I've always had a penchant for the crown of sonnets, where one sonnet leads to another sonnet and then another, as in John Donne's The Corona."
"I've been an inveterate reader of literary magazines since I was a teenager. There are always discoveries. You're sitting in your easy chair, reading; you realize you've read a story or a group of poems four times, and you know, Yes, I want to go farther with this writer."
"I've been in Paris as much as I could be, which includes living here for longer stretches of time, then eventually just living here tout court."
"In France, the initial entry into publication in journals depends much more upon pre-existing connections and allegiances."
"In this neighborhood things have been changing fast, too fast. I can remember when the endless clothing boutiques in the rue des Francs-Bourgeois were grocery shops, bakeries, newsagents."
"It is interesting to be working with poets whose work is so different from my own, and who are very different from each other."
"It's one thing to have street names of something that's taking place on the corner of rue St Anne and the rue de Turenne, but another to have something French at random. The worst is when you know there's a word and you can't think of the name."
"It's rather paradoxical that the major strains of contemporary French poetry move rather far from what I'm doing."
"Mavis Gallant, another brilliant Canadian, is completely bilingual in her life and reading, has lived here for 52 years and always writes in English, even conducting interviews with the French press in English."
"My mother was told she couldn't go to medical school because she was a woman and a Jew. So she became a teacher in the New York City public school system."
"Neither Claire nor Venus would, I think, identify herself as a feminist: that word is much more easily accepted in the Anglophone world."
"Of the individual poems, some are more lyric and some are more descriptive or narrative. Each poem is fixed in a moment. All those moments written or read together take on the movement and architecture of a narrative."
"Paris is a wonderful city. I can't say I belong to an especially anglophone community."
"Perhaps first and foremost is the challenge of taking what I find as a reader and making it into a poem that, primarily, has to be a plausible poem in English."
"Praise Voltaire, there are no flags except on municipal buildings!"
"Roubaud writes sonnets that sound like John Donne in French - something that you read with the same kind of shock and rightness and wit that you feel when you read John Donne, of a little knife going in."
"The ambiguities of language, both in terms of vocabulary and syntax, are fascinating: how important connotation is, what is lost and what is gained in the linguistic transition."
"The narrative quality of Khoury-Ghata's work-narrative inflected by surrealism and by tropes from Arabic poetry - appeals to me."
"The phenomenon of university creative writing programs doesn't exist in France. The whole idea is regarded as a novelty, or an oddity."
"The pleasure that I take in writing gets me interested in writing a poem. It's not a statement about what I think anybody else should be doing. For me, it's an interesting tension between interior and exterior."
"The pull between sound and syntax creates a kind of musical tension in the language that interests me."
"There is a certain openness in American and British poetry circles that manifests itself, for example, in magazine editors' willingness to read unsolicited manuscripts by writers whose names they've never seen before."
"There is a way in which all writing is connected. In a second language, for example, a workshop can liberate the students' use of the vocabulary they're acquiring."
"There is something very satisfactory about being in the middle of something."
"Translation is an interestingly different way to be involved both with poetry and with the language that I've found myself living in much of the time. I think the two feed each other."
"Translation makes me look at how a poem is put together in a different way, without the personal investment of the poem I'm writing myself, but equally closely technically."
"Various on-line discussion groups are ways to find out about books and writers that one might have remained ignorant of otherwise."
"We sometimes received - and I would read - 200 manuscripts a week. Some of them were wonderful, some were terrible; most were mediocre. It was like the gifts of the good and bad fairies."
"When I edited Thirteenth Moon, a feminist literary magazine, I basically supported it myself with an essential grant here and there."
"When you are in a university, paradoxically, it makes those intergenerational relationships between writers more problematic."
"When you translate poetry in particular, you're obliged to look at how the writer with whom you're working puts together words, sentences, phrases, the triple tension between the line of verse, the syntax and the sentence."
"Writers are dealing with essential issues, some are themselves HIV-positive or writing with cancer or AIDS, or as health-care givers, legal advisors, teachers, outreach workers, witnesses - I think that's a necessary integration of literary writing with what's actually going on in our world."
"You are almost not free, if you are teaching a group of graduate students, to become friends with one of them. I don't mean anything erotically charged, just a friendship."