Jack Gilbert On Horseback Riding/Writing

From Jack Gilbert’s 2005 Interview with the Paris Review:

“If I’m writing well it comes to an end with an almost-audible click. When I started out I wouldn’t write a poem until I knew the first line and the last line and what it was about and what would make it a success. I was a tyrant and I was good at it. But the most important day in my career as a writer was when Linda said, Did you ever think of listening to your poems? And my poetry changed. I didn’t give up making precreated poetry, but you have to write a poem the way you ride a horse—you have to know what to do with it. You have to be in charge of a horse or it will eat all day—you’ll never get back to the barn. But if you tell the horse how to be a horse, if you force it, the horse will probably break a leg. The horse and rider have to be together.”

He also says that he won the Yale Younger Poet’s prize, “accidentally,” that he found cigarettes “boring” and that vacations are “second-rate.” Read the whole interview here.

About the Author: Elly Bookman

Elly BookmanElly Bookman, Contributor.  Elly Bookman's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, The Journal, Passages North, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. She was the recipient of the first annual Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from American Poetry Review, and was featured in Rattle's Poet's Respond Series. Originally from downtown Atlanta, Elly teaches middle school in Wilmington, North Carolina.  

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