The Future of the Line.

Gillian Connolly: “In the 22nd century, what will the line look like and do?”

I find myself incapable of thinking theoretically about poems. I’m not saying this question doesn’t have value, and I’m certainly not bragging. But is it like ‘if we can dream it, we can do it?’ Sort of like Leonardo Da Vinci designing airplanes and the like? Did Da Vinci’s airplane help the Wright Brothers? More to the point, did they help Da Vinci paint La Belle Ferroniere and the Madonna of the Rocks?

Do other poets actually think about this sort of thing when they sit down to write? Or is it a consideration of something other than actually making poems? I can never quite see beyond the next word and line and all the mistakes I’m making as I write. (All poems are made of a zillion tiny mistakes. I mean choices.)

Speaking of poetry, I recently said “I don’t really like poetry. I only care about poems.” Speaking of words, more than once I’ve heard poets (among other people) say “I love words.” I don’t love words. It seems to me that’s like loving skin cells.

Someone recently asked me to “name a poem that still perplexes you after all these years.” I said “all poems that are any good perplex me. I wouldn’t keep reading them if they didn’t.”

Originally Published: April 4th, 2011

Daisy Fried is the author of Women's Poetry: Poems and Advice (2013), My Brother is Getting Arrested Again (2006) and She Didn’t Mean to Do It (2000), all from University of Pittsburgh Press. She was awarded the Editors' Prize for Feature Article from Poetry magazine in 2009.