I’ve read that you write exactly four poems a year, every year.
That is actually true. I have pretty much produced at that pace since probably about 1996.
When I was a graduate student, I had to write poems so I produced a lot, and what I found is that, by the end of the year, I usually had four poems I felt were actually done. And that most of the other stuff that I wrote, I was writing because I had to write it. I had to turn in a poem for workshop, or I had to get stuff done for my thesis.
When I went to medical school, I panicked at first because I thought, “I’m never going to get any poems done.” Essentially what happened was that I found, at the end of the year, I had four poems. The only difference was that I didn’t write tons and tons of drafts and dump them to get the four poems. So I don’t know why that is; I think that’s just my rate of production. I have lots of friends who write two or four poems a month, and I always feel immensely jealous.
It’s funny. When I went to MacDowell years ago, I really didn’t do anything except write, and I think I ended up with fourteen poems in the two weeks I was there.
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