The Poetry Breaks series is a series of videos filmed in the late 1980s and early 1990s by creator Leita Luchetti, who co-produced the series with the WGBH New Television Workshops. Poetry Breaks features short videos of internationally renowned poets reading their work, reading the work of other poets, and discussing their takes on poetry in a variety of locations. The Academy of American Poets has partnered with Luchetti to present these videos once again.
In this video, Lucille Clifton shares her reflections on what poetry is.
"While poetry sometimes to teachers is a matter of text and something to be studied, for me poetry is a way of living in the world. I think that I don't produce texts, and I don't do it to be studied, though I do recognize the value of those things. But for me poetry is a way of trying to express something that is very difficult to express, and it's a way of trying to come to peace with the world. The mistake teachers sometimes make is that they think art and poetry—they think that's about answers. And it's not about that, it's about questions. So you come to poetry not out of what you know but out of what you wonder. And everyone wonders something differently and at different times. It is a mistake in poetry—it is not a mistake to try to figure out the ways that it's crafted, but its crafting is not what it is." —Lucille Clifton