Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stanley Kunitz quote

From Stanley Kunitz's acceptance speech at the 1995 National Book Awards for his book Passing Through: The Later Poems:

"Poetry, it cannot be denied, requires a mastery of craft, but it is more than a playground for technicians. The craft that I admire most manifests itself not as an aggregate of linguistic or prosodic skills, but as a form of spiritual testimony, the sign of the inviolable self, consolidated against the enemies within and without that would corrupt or destroy human pride and dignity.

"I do not think that it is admirable to live by words, for words, in words. In the best poetry of our time, but only the best, one is aware of a moral pressure being exerted on the medium is the very act of creation.

"By moral, I mean a testing of existence at its highest pitch. What does it feel like to be totally oneself? An awareness of others beyond the self, and a compassion for them, a concern with values and meanings, rather than with effects, an effort to tap the spontaneity that hides in the depths rather than what forms on the surface, a conviction about one's power to distinguish between right and wrong choices, even symbolic choices.

"Lacking this pressure, we are left with nothing but a vacuum occupied by a technique."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That makes me happy.


P.S. The word verification for this post is "urpoo." I am not even kidding.