"A young man's ambition is to get along in the world and make a place for himself-half your life goes that way, till you're 45 or 50. Then, if you're lucky, you make terms with life, you get released."
"For what is a poem but a hazardous attempt at self-understanding: it is the deepest part of autobiography."
"How do poems grow? They grow out of your life."
"I don't expect you'll hear me writing any poems to the greater glory of Ronald and Nancy Reagan."
"I've been to a lot of places and done a lot of things, but writing was always first. It's a kind of pain I can't do without."
"Most writers are trying to find what they think or feel... not simply working from the given, but toward the given, saying the unsayable and steadily asking, "What do I really feel about this?""
"Storytelling and copulation are the two chief forms of amusement in the South. They're inexpensive and easy to procure."
"The poem is a little myth of man's capacity of making life meaningful. And in the end, the poem is not a thing we see-it is, rather, a light by which we may see-and what we see is life."
"The poet is in the end probably more afraid of the dogmatist who wants to extract the message from the poem and throw the poem away than he is of the sentimentalist who says, "Oh, just let me enjoy the poem.""
"The urge to write poetry is like having an itch. When the itch becomes annoying enough, you scratch it."
"What is a poem but a hazardous attempt at self-understanding? It is the deepest part of autobiography."