So Good

INTERVIEWER

I think it’s interesting that you said object. I remember the first poem you gave me to read, “Total Collection,” about Noah collecting the animals for the ark. I got about four lines into it and I realized it kept getting thicker and deeper and harsher. It didn’t feel like a poem, it felt like falling into a painting, or as if someone had handed me a jewel.

CARSON

Yes, that you travel inside of. I think that’s what poems are supposed to do, and I think it’s what the ancients mean by imitation. When they talk about poetry, they talk about mimesis as the action that the poem has, in reality, on the reader. Some people think that means the poet takes a snapshot of an event and on the page you have a perfect record. But I don’t think that’s right; I think a poem, when it works, is an action of the mind captured on a page, and the reader, when he engages it, has to enter into that action. And so his mind repeats that action and travels again through the action, but it is a movement of yourself through a thought, through an activity of thinking, so by the time you get to the end you’re different than you were at the beginning and you feel that difference.

INTERVIEWER

So it’s an act.

CARSON

It’s an action. It’s a practice.

INTERVIEWER

It’s an action for both the writer and the reader.

– Paris Review – The Art of Poetry No. 88, Anne Carson

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