Peter Davison Interviews Richard Wilbur: From The Atlantic Archives

More

Longtime Atlantic poetry editor Peter Davison spoke with Pulitzer prize-winning poet Richard Wilbur back in 1999. They discussed Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, and the business of poetry.

In honor of National Poetry Month, here's a look at part of their exchange:

You have spent a lifetime in poetry now. What are you most grateful to poetry for?

I'm grateful to all of the poets of the past who have delighted me, and who gave me a feeling that I wanted to do something like that. And if there is a muse, I'm grateful to the muse for the occasional experience of making something as good as I wanted it to be.

And in your life—how are you grateful to poetry?

It happens that I like performing poetry. I really do like trotting around the country and reading poems to audiences, because I've gotten good at it over a period of time. Initially I had hysterical sore throats and muttered at my audiences, but I have gotten to be, within my limits, a showman, and I do enjoy that. I also enjoy being able to do something with the important feelings of my life. I think that to be inarticulate can be a great suffering, and I'm glad that my loves, and my other feelings, have sometimes found their way into poems that fully express them.

Read the entire interview, "Richard Wilbur: A Certain Logic."

See all of The Atlantic's Richard Wilbur coverage.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

How have stories changed in the age of social media? The minds behind House of Cards, This American Life, and The Moth discuss.


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In