By Emily Temple
On the obligations of the poet:
I don’t know that poetry itself has any universal or unique obligations. It’s a great ongoing human activity of making, over different times, under different circumstances. For a poet, in this time we call “ours,” in this whirlpool of disinformation and manufactured distraction? Not to fake it, not to practice a false innocence, not pull the shades down on what’s happening next door or across town. Not to settle for shallow formulas or lazy nihilism or stifling self-reference.
Nothing “obliges” us to behave as honorable human beings except each others’ possible examples of honesty and generosity and courage and lucidity, suggesting a greater social compact.
(From a 2011 interview with The Paris Review)