Richard Kostelanetz

One difference between experimental writing and commercial poetry is that the former is primarily concerned with discoveries within language; the latter is generally read (and praised) for its sociology, psychology, politics, archetypes, journalism, authorís exotic background, or other ephemera. This distinction between experimental and commercial, developed by me decades ago, is still valuable.

The measure of poetic strength is the development of an invention that is generally dismissed before it is widely imitated.

The principal subject of my poems is qualities indigenous to words themselves; everything else should be shunted aside as something else.

One motive behind visual enhancements is revealing properties of words previously hidden.

Learning from visual arts, I want to create after-images that are remembered apart from my name.

Should my poems be considered "light," because they certainly arenít heavy? I call them poems because they canít be classified as anything else.

Whereas traditional poetry accepts familiar limitations, innovative poetry explores possibilities even within unfamiliar constraints that can be limiting.

One measure of maturity in poetry should be the achievement of a personal, instantly identifiable verbal style; the measure of stylistic signature is the creation of poems that could appear in a multi-person compilation without the poetís name adjacent to his text.

Among the secondary virtues of my poems is the elimination of all first-person pronouns and their variations. Lacking commentary on my personal experience, they eschew the most convenient source of thematic weight.

Form comes first; content follows, as the notion of any "organic" relation between the two usually means that form is subordinate to content.

One reason why certain poets adopt extreme subjects is seducing an audienceís interest, but art as its truest and best has nothing to do with seduction.

Because art is created by and for the mind, it can scarcely rival life, let alone journalism, at stimulating emotions.

The greatest vulgarity of recent poetry writing has been letting Personality take the place of form in defining an individual work, such displacements depend upon conventional, transparent styles to succeed. In forcing attention to form, experimental work allies with traditional esthetics.

Because my poems are superficially "unacceptable" to most poetry editors, I take pride in noting that in Len Fultonís canvassing of poetry editors I currently get the third highest number of enthusiastic votes when they are asked to select a favorite five.

If the mark of poetry is linguistic distinction, the business of personality is publicity. One virtue I claim for my poetry is that it cannot be declaimed before an audience.

If obscurity and excessive difficulty within traditional forms are vices typical of pretentious poetry, clarity and simplicity in poetry should be the equivalents of plain speaking in prose.

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