You Have to Find Out

The Poet's View from The Academy of American Poets (


Excerpt from “Gardening Notes: America's New Poet Laureate,” by Ed Lake, The National (July 25, 2010):

For [Merwin, poetry] involves more than just the…musical effects…A kind of conceptual harmony is required, a gradual perception of the poem’s ideal shape emerging through draft after draft. “I can’t say what it is, but when it’s right, when it sounds right, then it is right,” he says. “Sometimes getting it right means a whole new aspect of what you’re talking about. And I tell students that writing comes from listening, that poetry comes from listening, and they inevitably say: ‘Listening to what?’ And I say: ‘That’s what you have to find out.’”