poem index

The Poetic Life

Written by

C. K. Williams

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March 09, 2010
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From a June 11, 2008 interview on Bigthink.com. To watch Williams describe poetry as music-making and read aloud a poem about global warming, please see the full interview at Big Think.


The challenge is to do it all the time. The challenge is to sit there, basically, because there are so many times when you just want to flee. It's not the life that I would have thought. It's more difficult in some ways. The actual act of writing is both more difficult and more rewarding.

You have certain states of something like ecstasy in your writing when it goes well, when it goes especially well, and that's not something you can imagine when you're first starting out. It certainly wasn't what happened to me those first few times I wrote poems. But then the going on with it is quite hard.

There was a period when I renounced it when I was—oh, how old was I—about right after I published my first book. I—my life was a mess. I was separating from my then wife, and I just decided this life of a poet is killing me; I have to do something else. But I couldn't.

I thought of writing screenplays. I had a friend who was a director in Hollywood and I said, "I want to be a director," and he said, "That's impossible but try writing some screenplays." So I sat down and I started and I found it very boring so I just sat at my desk for a few months really doing nothing but keeping the same hours I did when I was writing poetry. And then I started writing again, and I started writing in a new way and it was very exciting. It was actually after my second book, I should say.