poem index

What Do You Like?

Written by

James Wright
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Year

2009
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Galway Kinnell and I were out in Michigan a couple of summers ago at a thing called "The National Poetry Festival." That was a weird, interesting week. We were supposed to do something out there, and we didn't know what to do to earn our keep. And I suggested that we give a course called "The Pleasures of Poetry."

We did give it three times. What we were going to do is share with everybody some things that we liked, not things of our own, but poems that we liked by other people. And we asked people in the audience to share some poems with us. They did get around to it finally, but it took about three hours for us to convince them that it was okay to do that.

At first we thought: Christ, nobody's reading anything. That is a great danger in a time like this when so many people are writing. We're often in danger of becoming like that great [comic character] Pogo.

Pogo discovered that he could write. And he wrote a story. Then, when he started to look at it, he remembered that he couldn't read. So he took it to Albert the alligator. And he was sitting there, and Albert was reading the story to him.

Then he sits there, smoking a cigar, thinking things like, "I was young when I wrote that."