Interview

Former Freight Hopper Makes Good

Richard Wilbur on meeting Frost, writing in foxholes, and falling in and out of fashion.

by D. H. Tracy

Former army cryptographer, freight hopper, and Broadway lyricist Richard Wilbur (1921—) published his first book of poems in 1947. He quickly developed a reputation, cemented by subsequent collections, for felicitous, elaborate, even-tempered verse, and his recent Collected Poems 1943-2004 is a remarkable record of sustained optimism and commitment to craft. No poet of his generation has been more committed to careful, organized expression or has more thoroughly mastered the forms and devices of traditional poetry; this conservative aesthetic and his deep love for “country things” link Wilbur to the Roman poet Horace and to his fellow American Robert Frost. Wilbur had an academic career at Wesleyan University, and remains an active translator, particularly of classic French drama. [Read D.H. Tracy’s extended Wilbur biography.]

Wilbur lives in Cummington, Massachusetts. This conversation took place on April 7, 2006.

D.H. Tracy: You’ve had a very long career—your first book came out 60 years ago next year. Some of the questions I’d like to ask have to do with your perceptions of things over time.

I’m surprised by the strenuousness of the criticism your poetry has sometimes generated, and by the contrast between this strenuousness and the timbre of the poems themselves. When you were starting out, did you have an idea of how controversial it would be to write optimistic formal verse?


Richard Wilbur: Actually, in my background, at that time, most of the poets I admired—and many of them were alive—were capable of writing metrically. Many of them chose to rhyme. My favorite poet, then and always, was Robert Frost, and I didn’t hesitate to follow in his footsteps. There were people at the time I was commencing to write who didn’t regard Frost as a Modernist, but now I believe he’s considered to be one form that Modernism could take.

So I never felt I was electing to be “old hat” from the start. It seemed a kind of poetry that anybody at the moment might like to write, and indeed many people were doing so. It wasn’t really until the ’60s that there was a general turning away from so-called formal verse.

DHT: You knew Frost personally, isn’t that so?

RW: Yes, I did. I had the luck to meet him almost immediately after World War II, when my wife and I and my daughter went up to Cambridge to be at the Harvard graduate school. He was spending his winters in Cambridge.

I had a certain advantage with him right away because my wife’s grandfather, William Hayes Ward, had been the editor of The Independent, in which Frost’s first publication occurred. It was his poem “My Butterfly.” My wife’s great-aunt, Susan Hayes Ward, was an expert on hymnody and a great lover of poetry, and the person whom Frost described all his life as “the first friend of my poetry.” That meant that Frost smiled on us from the beginning.

DHT: Some of the poems from your first book were composed while you were still in the army. And you’ve talked about how you first deeply read Poe out of a paperback in a foxhole at Monte Cassino. Do you remember the circumstances behind the composition of any of the poems?

RW: I’m not sure that I can call up the moment. Even if you’re in a divisional signal company—which means that you are very busy, and imperiled some of the time—you find that, as Evelyn Waugh once said, war is mostly waiting around. You sit in a hole in the ground somewhere, or in a truck somewhere, or behind a couple sandbags, and you pass the time by forgetting, if possible, where you are for the moment.

And I forgot myself in all sorts of places during World War II. I had a young man’s ability to sit down in the corridor of a troop ship going overseas, with people’s feet all around me, and read books and even scribble on a poem. I did that sort of thing at every opportunity.

DHT: Can you give us a basic sketch of a day in the life of an army cryptographer? Were you usually outdoors? In a field office? By a radio? What did your duties consist of?

RW: Most of what I did was, as you say, cryptographic work: I was breaking enciphered messages and sending out messages in cipher. Our greatest weapons, on the cryptographic side, were big machines. Those had to be toted around in large trucks. We worked in a truck, very often. Under unpleasant circumstances, like the Anzio beachhead, we would dig the truck into a bank and make it as secure as possible. At other times, we would just sit there in the damn truck and work. We also established ourselves in buildings, here and there—wherever we could find a little bit of shelter so that we could do complex work with full attention. We sought that shelter.

DHT: You were initially thrown out of cryptanalysis school because of suspected disloyalty and leftist sympathies, after they discovered a copy of Marx in your possession.

RW: Quite ridiculous, really. When I reported to my basic training camp, I took along a large Modern Library volume of Marx’s Capital, which I had never read. I thought that (as I’ve just said) war was going to involve a lot of waiting around, and I might as well read that big fat book. I’ve still never read it.

But the fact is that, during inspection, when we had to have our footlockers open for the eye of the inspecting officer, it looked pretty bad. So the counterintelligence corps people decided they better look into me.

I really wasn’t very radical. You might say I was a strong New Dealer—an admirer of Franklin Roosevelt and an adherent of the union movement. I had no really dangerous leftist convictions. I do think that during World War II—and it’s probably indeed the same right now in Washington—what is preferred is that people who handle secret material should not have strenuous political attitudes of any kind. I can recall that when I was going through basic training, we were shown, as a matter of what they called indoctrination, a couple of rather good films by Frank Capra, one of which essentially traced the development of Fascism in Europe, and the clear moral of which was that we should have stopped them in Spain. You were supposed to sit in front of that movie and absorb it, yet if you went out in the company street thereafter and started talking about how we should have stopped them in Spain, people who were security-minded would feel a certain alarm. They did not want the passionately political in secret work.

DHT: How common an occurrence were these demotions? Did anything similar happen to any of your friends?

RW: Yes. One of my friends, who had I think been in the Communist Party (I’m not sure), was thrown out of some secret work, and comically enough he ended up rather in charge of teletype communications for the southern ETO [European Theater of Operations].

If you had a specialist number of some kind, identifying you as having some sort of ability, you were likely, regardless of people’s doubts about your security, to end up practicing that talent and that training. So I, even though my service record—which was forwarded along with me wherever I went—contained some sort of an indication that I was suspected of disloyalty, I found myself, through a series of accidents, doing exactly the secret work for which I had been trained, because the 36th Infantry Division needed a cryptographer.

DHT: Did this treatment rattle you, or did it seem entirely in keeping with what you knew about the army and the way it operated?

RW: I find it hard to report on my frame of mind about that; I was not dashed by it. It seems to me that I had a considerable feeling of knockabout enjoyment of things in those days, a feeling of adventure. So I just waited to see what would happen to me, and to absorb the shocks that might come.

DHT: Speaking of Edgar Allan Poe in the foxhole, it’s striking that the early American figures you seem to be in conversation with are Poe and Longfellow, and the monumental European figure who most interests you seems to be Milton. More commonly poets seem to fall in with Whitman and Dickinson, and then Dante. Have these figures and affiliations taken you in unusual directions relative to your peers?

RW: I don’t suppose that when I started writing poetry I was trying to place myself in the likely pattern of American poetry as a whole. I really responded to Walt Whitman rather favorably when I was young, and got to like him much more when I was older and teaching a course in American poetry. In spite of the fact that Whitman is thought of as the great American bard, like many people I read very little of him in my youth. He is a great unread poet for most people.

At present, to hear people talk in the academies, you would think that the things that happened in American poetry were Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. But when I was starting to read and know American poetry, I read many other people, and enjoyed, for example, Emerson. I liked the best of Longfellow very much. But my great attachments were to the Modernists. Really I responded to the whole lot of them. The list, if I gave it to you, would simply be the contents of a Modernist poetry anthology.

DHT: In the early ’60s you traveled to the Soviet Union and had contact with a number of writers there, translating, among others, Andrei Voznesensky, whose books were selling hundreds of thousands of copies. Some of the remarks you’ve made about Soviet poets during this period, who were writing “high demotic” poetry for an eager, newly literate public, have been fascinating—you’ve compared their situation with Longfellow’s in the mid-19th century.

RW: That’s right. It was a very comparable situation that I found when I went to the Soviet Union. In the first place, the Soviet reader was someone in many cases proud of a new literacy and seriously aspiring to higher things, and the Soviet poets, even those who had a certain freedom of mind and attitude, felt that they were the servants of those people, and that it was their business to energize and enlighten them. Therefore, people like Andrei Voznesensky sold out very large editions whenever they published. It did seem very enviable to me.

DHT: Have you kept up with any of those writers, either personally or with their work?

RW: For quite a while I did keep up with Voznesensky, but I haven’t really seen him for about ten years now or had any correspondence with him. I suppose that some of our cordiality did have to do with the need to bridge the gap between our countries, and now that doesn’t seem to be the chief aspect of the international situation.

I think actually that Yevgeny Yevtushenko is living and teaching here in the United States, somewhere in the Southwest [editor’s note: at the University of Tulsa]. He’s almost migrated to us.

DHT: What do you think about high demotic poetry in the United States right now? Is there any? If so, is there is a use for it? If not, is there a need for it?

RW: When I think of the 19th-century fireside, it’s rather easy to imagine a volume of Longfellow on the table by the easy chair. There are a lot of other distractions in our contemporary American life—with some of them I’m quite unacquainted. I don’t have a computer, for example. I know nothing of the Internet. But I know that the Internet is a large part of life for people now. And of course there’s television and videos and all the rest. I think that some of the entertainment aspect of poetry is less important to the majority of people now. They find their entertainment more readily in other media.

But just two days ago I was reading poems over at Tufts College in Medford, and a young woman in the audience asked me pretty much the question you’ve asked. I thought, well, instead of talking about how Modernism estranged the common reader and so on, let’s see if I can’t think of what’s positive about the present situation. One thing I thought of was simply the way poetry books sell at present. My first volume came out in an edition of 750 copies. I think that no New York publisher would come out with so small a first printing nowadays. I can’t estimate the likely sales of a good book of poetry now, but they’re much higher than they used to be.

Then there’s the matter of the poetry reading—I don’t mean the slam, but the reading. When I was a kid, the only people who went around on the lecture circuit very notably were pros like Robert Frost and Edna Millay and Carl Sandburg and, a little earlier, Vachel Lindsay. It was a limited number of people who had great power not only as poets but as entertainers. Starting I should say just after World War II, the poetry reading began to be a form of concert that was very frequent and well attended, and didn’t require that the reader be a pro as an entertainer. A kind of savvy audience developed—an audience of people who know that there’s a difference between a poetry concert and a concert of music. I walk out of any concert of music feeling that I’ve heard all the music. Of course I didn’t, but I tell myself that I have, and feel that I have. At poetry readings, you have to be willing to let a few things go by you, to be puzzled and frustrated from time to time, and to tolerate that as part of the poetry-reading experience.

Well, I seem to be running on, but I think there are positive aspects. Of course I could mention also radio broadcasters who read poems of some real quality, apparently to large audiences. That, too, is a good sign.

DHT: Speaking of writing for wide audiences, I wonder if you could speak a bit about your experiences writing Broadway lyrics. What habits did you have to get rid of or rein in to write for musical accompaniment, and to collaborate with others?

RW: You do have to change your way of working, in order to write Broadway lyrics. I know that, except for the occasional happy birthday poem, which is directed to somebody, I don’t write for people “out there”—I write to see if I can’t understand what it is I want to say. I assume myself to be an average human being, and I figure if I make things clear and interesting to myself, others might find them so.

But Broadway lyrics are an entirely different matter. There you have to think as knowledgably as you can about what is going to please a particular kind of New York theatergoer. When I was working on Candide, [Leonard] Bernstein and [Lillian] Hellman and I referred to him as “the man from Scarsdale.” He’s out there in the third or fourth row, he’s been dragged to the show by his wife, and you hope to say things that will keep him awake, will amuse him, and will be fully understandable to him. I remember when I was, as it were, “trying out” for the job of lyricist on Candide, I wrote for Hellman and Bernstein a sample lyric based on a passage in Voltaire’s Candide. It was one in which some shipwrecked kings in the middle of the Atlantic were resolving to lead improved lives if rescued. One of them was saying, “I’ll find myself a humble cot and cultivate the chicken.” The man from Scarsdale would not know that “cot” could mean a cottage or little farmstead of some kind—he would associate it with the army-and-navy store, and with the bunks at summer camp. So you can’t get away with too many clever rhymes of that kind. You really do need to think all the time about the people for whom you’re writing. I always preferred to write for an imaginary, quite bright and amusable person. When you start writing for people, you’d better not be condescending or you’ll lose.

DHT: You’ve talked about the difficulty of writing verse drama, and you spent a year in New Mexico trying to write your own plays. How would you put your finger on the difficulty?

RW: I turned out to be perfectly horrible at the conception and animation of characters. I could think of all sorts of amusing lines, but I could not get any kind of human action going on the stage. I, like many poets, do not have a narrative imagination. I tend to be able to pursue an argument for a certain distance, but I’m not really a storyteller.

I was once given a test by Harry Murray at Harvard. It was called a thematic apperception test. He was asking a number of writers to take it. He put a picture in front of me and said, “Tell me what you see there.” Well, the picture I remember was several frogs sitting around a pond; behind them, a hill; over the hill, a view of a house and a chimney with some smoke coming out of it. What I said was that it interested me the way the clouds in the sky repeated the forms of the frogs. And Mr. Murray said, “Yes, but who lives in that house?” And I said, “I’m damned if I know.” The last thing I was going to do was to tell a story about that picture. But any novelist would instantly have done so.

DHT: Are there poets you admire who do demonstrate this kind of dramatic gift? Yeats, perhaps, or Eliot?

RW: It seems to me that Eliot proved in the best of his poetic plays that he had a capacity for narrative. I think Brad Leithauser does too. I can think of a number of people who have written sustained story poems which I’ve found it pleasant to read. But the most I can do in that line is to write a poem such as my “Mind-Reader,” which is a Browningesque monologue in which the speaker does go from one point to another within his life, but is much more conveying his consciousness than his story.

DHT: A major project of yours has been the translation of the verse plays of Molière and Racine. Did you conceive of the project as “corrective” or “nutritious,” either to yourself or to poetry generally?

RW: I thought it was going to do all sorts of good to translate Molière’s The Misanthrope. It’s such a wonderful play that I wanted to do it properly and make it available to our stage. Happily, it turned out that I did have a talent for that. I don’t think I was trying to improve myself in any way, but actually translating that wonderful play did have an effect on my imagination when it came to my own poems. If you work through a Molière play trying to write lines which an actor will wish to speak with conviction, and the right flavor, it’s going to make it a little more possible to write within your own range. I began to have more of a dramatic voice, and to have more of what amount to characters in my poems.

DHT: You’ve written some children’s poetry of pretty sophisticated riddling and verbal play, requiring some attention to the formation and spelling of words (to find the “pig” in “spigot,” and so on). Were these poems tested on your own children? Or did they come about only after having seen your kids go through their language acquisition?

RW: When I was a kid, I was very amused by amusable poetry. I was fond, for example, of Edward Lear from the beginning, and of all sorts of nonsense verse, and of Lewis Carroll. I loved the Alice books, and read them annually at Christmastime. So I was prepared, I guess, to write some kids’ stuff as I got older. But of course the great catalyst was my children. My children loved to have me tell them stories, and they loved to hear and recite funny poems intended for children—things like the cautionary verses of Hilaire Belloc amused them all a great deal.

Another thing I did with all my children was to play dinner-table games, and that too fed into my initial project as a children’s author. But actually, the first thing I ever did was a book called Loudmouse, which I wrote at the invitation of Louis Untermeyer for a series of books he was editing called Modern Masters Books for Children. Louis had looked around for a lot of writers who had never written for children but might be expected to do it well. My first book, a narrative about a loud-voiced mouse, was written for that series, and it included some little jingles. I got to serious writing of poetry for children with my series of poems called “Opposites.”

I said just now that when I was writing Broadway lyrics, I tried to write for an imagined person of some taste and intelligence. I found myself doing the same thing with children’s verse. I did not write down to an imagined creepy little child; I wrote up to my own children at their best, and to intelligent, lively children generally. This meant when my first Opposites book was published and reviewed in the Times, a reader wrote in and said, “I’m an adult, and I enjoyed that book. Is that all right?” I was always delighted to find there were as many adult readers as there were child readers. A woman I respected very much always kept a copy of Opposites on her bathroom cabinet—I was proud of that.

DHT: It seems there is a pastoral element in your work that has true seductive value, but on the other hand you’re scrupulous about holding the city in equal esteem. Is this a balancing act for you, or does it come naturally?

RW: I think it does come naturally. I have spent more of my life in the country than in the city. But I was born in New York City and have lived there, in Greenwich Village or elsewhere, from time to time. I’ve lived in Cambridge, a delightful town. I don’t see any reason to feel superior to city life when it comes to writing poems. I was always very happy to discover that a nature poet like William Cullen Bryant could also write quite well about the town.

I’m happiest in the country. I was brought up on a farm in New Jersey about 20 miles out of the big city, and I was about a hundred feet from a barn full of cows, and experienced every aspect of farming as I grew up. I’ve also always been a tramper in the woods. Living as I do now in one of the hill towns of northwestern Massachusetts, I find there’s lots of good material all around.

DHT: Does the farm where you grew up still exist?

RW: No. As a matter of fact, the town of North Caldwell is not in any way recognizable now. It’s been absolutely engulfed by the spreading metropolis. So I haven’t seen it for about ten years. One friend of mine still lives there. I ought to go and see him. But none of the trees I climbed are there anymore.

DHT: As a poet who works in received forms, how do you think about originality? Do you feel a responsibility to use form in original ways? Or do you think of originality as overvalued? Is it even a virtue? What does originality consist of, for you?

RW: I don’t have any interest in the repetition of the past. I regard what you just called “received forms” as so much equipment, really—that’s all that they are. I find that the use of meters, rhymes, and stanzas is a way of saying what I want to say with greater power and pleasure. I would be very troubled if people thought my book of poems had too fearfully traditional an air. I try to make every poem different from the last, and I simply use the meters and the other received, inherited formal elements to enforce what it is that I’m saying.

DHT: As fashions have come and gone, have the terms your work has been received in changed much? Do you think the criticism has gotten coarser or finer, closer to the point or farther away?

RW: Anybody who uses forms as I do is going to go in or out of fashion. When I started writing, there was a very warm reception to my poems generally, and they were cheerfully accepted on the formal side. Come the 1960s, I was suddenly very much out of fashion. So I spent a decade or more simply being defiant, and going on doing things the only way I knew how.

Now I should say there’s a revival of tolerance for so-called formal poetry, and also, many people who have gotten a bit sick of the prosaic creative-writing poem of the past few years have learned to read formal poetry with relish and understanding.

DHT: Do you feel any sense of vindication about this? Do you think it’s a temporary development?

RW: I don’t regard form as a cause, so I’m not really militant about it. One of my favorite poets of all time, who never gets tiring for me, is William Carlos Williams. I can’t imagine lining myself up against him, or against any school of writers presumably descended from him. Free verse is awfully hard to write, but I much admire it when somebody can do it well, as most people cannot.

DHT: Elsewhere, talking about William Carlos Williams, you’ve indicated the affinity both of you have for things and objects, and how both of you avoid approaching the spiritual through the immaterial or the abstract. How do you approach airier poets who do approach the spiritual in this fashion? Do they hold any interest for you?

RW: I daresay I could think a bit and come up with a list of poets who seem to me not very much in touch with the concrete world but [who] nevertheless have power. Yeats is rather that way, really. If you look around in Yeats hoping for a good description of something, you’ll look all day. It’s mostly something else—a form of poetry rather close to the incantatory and oratorical, which I find quite wonderful sometimes.

I shall make Yeats my champion of the abstract.

DHT: In 1974 someone asked you where you thought poetry would be in the year 2000, and you replied that you saw “no one powerful style prevailing or developing,” and you spoke somewhat ruefully of the development of a marketplace where work is accorded space according to how easy or difficult it is to classify. Would you say time has borne out this prediction?

RW: I do think that development is tiresome. No really good poet is describable in terms of his school affiliations. I do think that when people begin to put together anthologies in that spirit, they include a lot of inferior work by association, and neglect much that is more original.

I’m not aware, really, of our present poetic scene consisting of a lot of schools. Do you see it that way?

DHT: It seems more fragmented than it was several decades ago, but maybe I’m mistaken.

Are there developments over the past 30, 40, 50 years that have surprised you, ones you would not have been able to predict?


RW: That’s a tough one. I guess that when surprises happen, it’s the emergence of some unpredictably good talent that excites me. I can’t think very well in terms of what people call “the condition of poetry in America.” There are doubtless distinguishable trends, but I don’t see them. I tend to see the individual book as it comes, and rejoice or not.

DHT: Another phenomenon you’ve been able to observe for a long period of time is the entry of poets into the universities. As a social experiment, would you call it a success? Where do you think this experiment stands now, relative to where it did when you were starting your career?

RW: Certainly when I was starting, it was relatively rare for there to be poets working in the English departments of this country. Ridgeley Torrence had done it, Robert Frost had done it, David Morton was doing it at Amherst when I was an undergraduate. But of course there’s been a runaway development of this, together with the establishment of creative writing courses, MFAs, and so on. Anything of this kind is going to be both good and bad. Don Justice spent a very good part of his life running creative writing classes, and if so marvelous a poet as that found it a lively thing to do—I know that he conveyed his liveliness to a certain number of his students—it must have been good.

I have my negative thoughts about the phenomenon too. It seems to me that it has made for a lax, undemanding kind of poem: prosaic, personal, unambitious, and formless. That has been the period style for a bit too long, though that seems to be changing. There are other negative things one could say about poetry camping in the university, but if what poets need is an encounter with life in general, I think it’s still to be had.

DHT: Your most recent teaching appointment was when?

RW: I retired from Smith College in 1986, I think. Because I enjoyed teaching subject-matter courses as well as doing the creative writing sort of thing, I find that I’m sometimes frustrated by the unavailability of persons to whom I can tell the truth about Milton’s “Lycidas,” for example. Every now and then I want to corner people and give them the cold dope on the authors whom I most enjoy teaching.

But on the whole, I find that I’m quite busy enough. At the moment I’m translating Corneille’s extraordinary play L’Illusion Comique. I’m on line 902 of it and forging forward every day. I do that when a poem doesn’t come and insist on being written. And all of that pretty well fills my days.

DHT: Discussions of poets’ work tend to fall into ruts, where the same three or four poems are discussed again and again. Is there a poem of yours that you would like to draw attention to, a poem that you feel has not received adequate notice?

RW: There’s a poem of mine called “Lying” that has had some good attention, but I like it better all the time, and so I hope that people who are at all interested in me will have a look at that one. When I read that poem to an audience, I always tell them that when I showed it first to my wife, she said, “Well, you’ve done it. At last you’ve done it. You’ve written a poem that’s unintelligible from beginning to end.” And it is a tough one in the sense that it’s full of riffing similes and metaphors, and indeed that’s what the poem is about: it’s about resemblances between things, and the idea that all things are ultimately of one nature.

But when I persuaded my wife to reread that poem, she said, “Well, yes. It’s clear now. Busy, but clear.” And I think a number of people have found it so.

DHT: One last question I’ve been dying to ask. In your poem “Walking to Sleep,” there is the passage “What you must manage is to bring to mind / A landscape not worth looking at, some bleak / Champaign at dead November’s end.” I just moved to Champaign, Illinois, last year—is this the Champaign you’re talking about?

RW: [laughs] It’s the same word, but it has a different flavor in the poem—I take a positive view of Champaign, Illinois.

This particular Champaign, in “Walking to Sleep,” is intended to be a part, I suppose, of a strategy of emotional avoidance. The poem begins by trying to bore oneself to sleep, and then, halfway through, it takes a more contagious and courageous view of things. But I’m getting incoherent.

DHT: What was the genesis of that poem? Was there insomnia involved?

RW: Ever since my childhood I’ve been interested in my dreams, and sometimes kept a book in which I wrote them down. So finally, out of many, many years of dreaming, and some years of having insomnia, I decided to make dreaming the whole subject of the poem.

Of course, one of the theses of the poem is that the way you dream will be an indication of the way you take the world as a whole, the way you take this world and the next. And so it is, rather at some length, an account of two strategies for going to sleep. It ends by proposing [that] you go to sleep courageous.

Originally Published: April 18, 2006

COMMENTS (4)

On December 22, 2007 at 11:20pm Peter Montalbano wrote:
Wonderful interview. Wilbur is one of my literary heroes. Some of the questions asked were similar to questions I'd want to ask, but I have some more that I'd really like to get his answers to. How would I go about contacting him? My questions mainly concern my general problems with what passes for good poetry these days, and what Mr. Wilbur would have to say about these concerns of mine. I'm actually appalled at what I see happening in academic circles generally regarding poetry and criticism of poetry. To what extent would Mr. Wilbur agree with me, and where not, what light could he shed?

On March 30, 2008 at 9:15am Jean Scott Creighton wrote:
Richard Wilbur, Robert Frost, and T.S.Eliot were the three poets that showed me the beauty and force of past rhymes and melody and the freedom from lock-step poetic rules.

Richard Wilbur in particular allowed me to look over my shoulder and see the joy of ordered verse and look ahead to the wide ranging expression unhampered by the tightness of order and rule. Beauty and wisdom wear many costumes and Richard Wilbur showed me this.

On July 8, 2008 at 5:00am maggiegarvey/togher wrote:
i began to write poetry ,about twelve years,ago to years after my eldest daughter be came ill after an over dose of

drugs' she was just eighteen years old.

with an iq of one hundred and thirty five ever since then she has been in and out of hospital.

i prayed for a way to cope to help her and always be there for her.

and one day i just started writing .

according to poetry . com i am an

accomplished poet.

i really love writing poetry and short children''s stories.

please could you tell me.

is poetry .com for real.

your's truly maggiegarvey/togher.

`

On April 8, 2009 at 8:47am Rick Eyerdam wrote:
Poetry. com gave me an award for each of the poems I sent them then tried to sell me stuff. When I paid for the book, it never came. They asked for a poem for their best poets of 2005 edition. I sent them this:

fool me once

so I know im good
with a head like wood
i bought this crap
(and I don't usually rap)
but no book came to me
no matter how hard i plea
fool me once and i learn
fool me twice and i burn
so stop this feces
and seek some other bait
i can write any crap
and you will say it's great

They sent back the artists proof before publishing and on the artists proof it had a phony stamp that said "Excellent poem."

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D.H. Tracy's poetry and criticism appear widely. He lives in Illinois.

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