From a panel discussion on "Pure and Impure Poetry" at the third annual Poets Forum in New York City, Oct. 17, 2009.


Jean Valentine: Does anything pure exist?

Lyn Hejinian:In the vernacular, contemporary colloquialisms, people speak of something as 'Pure Poetry,' and usually they mean an athletic achievement—like a great basket, or a great tennis serve, or maybe a pony that gallops around a field and tosses its mane in the wind: pure poetry. And those things exist.

As soon as we say them, they're pure sentimentality, in a way, or fan-dom—Like: "What a great shot!" or "Man, that guy's good. Pure poetry!"

So, do you think there's...?

Valentine: No.

Hejinian: No, good thing. The only chance for humans is in our impurity. All apologies to the saints.