Anne Waldman points out that in this era of poetry, “the genres are multiple,” and this statement holds true for the conversation itself; each Chancellor has her own area of interest within the topic at hand.
Waldman is fascinated by how “current practice has engaged the experimental, and the traditional, and the wild.” Toi Derricotte celebrates how Cave Canem, the “safe home for African American poets” that she cofounded, has changed the contemporary poetic landscape since 1996. And C. D. Wright advocates for keeping “a little autonomy” as writers, arguing that “no particular lineage or tradition or identity is going to faultlessly guide our practice."
Near the end of the conversation, Wright describes being drawn to three particular titles in a bookstore. She deconstructs, then reconstructs, those titles into the following statement on the contemporary: “We need to be reminded of how vile we are, that we each and every one are implicated…and we need room to praise without demand or censure…and we need to be prepared to have ourselves prepared by a perfect stillness.”