Happy Birthday, Dorianne Laux, born 10 January 1952.
- Good writing works from a simple premise: your experience is not yours alone, but in some sense a metaphor for everyone’s.
- When I wrote the poems that would become my first book, I didn’t think of it as a book, but rather as a need to understand the basic questions that all human beings ask: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? What is beauty? Why is there suffering? Where is truth?
- Writing and reading are the only ways to find your voice. It won’t magically burst forth in your poems the next time you sit down to write, or the next; but little by little, as you become aware of more choices and begin to make them — consciously and unconsciously — your style will develop.
- Poems keep us conscious of the importance of our individual lives … personal witness of a singular life, seen cleanly and with the concomitant well-chosen particulars, is one of the most powerful ways to do this.
- I write to add my voice to the sum of voices, to be part of the choir. I write to be one sequin among the shimmering others, hanging by a thread from the evening gown of the world. I write to remember. I write to forget myself, to be so completely immersed in the will of the poem that when I look up from the page I can still smell the smoke from the house burning in my brain. I write to destroy the blank page, unravel the ink, use up what I’ve been given and give it away. I write to make the trees shiver at the sliver of sun slipping down the axe blade’s silver lip. I write to hurt myself again, to dip my fingertip into the encrusted pool of the wound. I write to become someone else, that better, smarter self that lives inside my dumbstruck twin. I write to invite the voices in, to watch the angel wrestle, to feel the devil gather on its haunches and rise. I write to hear myself breathing. I write to be doing something while I wait to be called to my appointment with death. I write to be done writing. I write because writing is fun.
- A poem is like a child; at some point we have to let it go and trust that it will make its own way in the world.
- Craft is important, a skill to be learned, but it’s not the beginning and end of the story. I want the muddled middle to be filled with the gristle of the living.
Dorianne Laux is an award-winning American poet. Her most recent collection is The Book of Men, which won the Paterson Prize for Poetry. Red Dragonfly Press released The Book of Women in 2012. A finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, Laux is also author of three collections of poetry from BOA Editions, Awake, What We Carry and Smoke. Co-author of The Poet’s Companion, she’s the recipient of three Best American Poetry Prizes, a Pushcart Prize, two fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
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