HOWARD NEMEROV

Various Quotes

It is part of the delight in poetry, too, that there are formal problems; going at these relieves you of a certain pretentiousness connected with what you are supposed to be saying; you let it say itself, if only because you are so blessedly busy getting things to fit.

                                                         Journal of the Fictive Life, 1965

I think there was a revolution in poetry, associated chiefly with Eliot and Pound; but maybe it is of the nature of revolutions or of the nature of history that their innovations should later come to look trivial or indistinguishable from technical tricks.  

“Attentiveness and Obedience”
 Poets on Poetry, 1966

. . . it may be said that poems are in one way like icebergs: only about a third of their bulk appears above the surface of the page.

“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Skylark” 
Figures of Thought, 1978

For my sins I’ve been going through a little of this structuralist business, and it’s remarkable how little of it seems new when you cut through the enormous vocabulary and apparatus for milling around confusedly.

“Howard Nemerov in St. Louis: An Interview” 
Ross Labrie,The Southern Review, Summer 1979

I never abandoned either forms or freedom.  I imagine that most of what could be called free verse is in my first book.  I got through that fairly early.  I am not at all clear what free verse is anymore.  That’s one of the things you learn not to know.

“Howard Nemerov in St. Louis: An Interview” 
Ross Labrie, The Southern Review, Summer 1979

. . . I liked the kid who wrote me that he had to do a term paper on a modern poet and he was doing me because, though they say you have to read poems twice, he found he could handle mine in one try.

“Howard Nemerov in St. Louis: An Interview” 
Ross Labrie, The Southern Review, Summer 1979
Jan Castro:  Did the iambics come naturally? 
Howard Nemerov:  I talk that way. 
Interview with Howard Nemerov” 
Webster Review, Fall 1980 

I have only two rules in prosody.  One is, it goes ta dum ta dum ta dum ta dum ta dum, and the second is, try not to sound like that.

“Interview with Howard Nemerov” 
Webster Review, Fall 1980

When they [modern writers] gave up telling stories, they gave up the greatest thing we had.

“Interview with Howard Nemerov” 
Webster Review, Fall 1980

You know, I am reminded of what an awful lot of garbage we all talk.  Sometimes it is conspicuous because it pretends to affect the real world, to be a scheme of government, of methodizing knowledge, and so forth, but what we talk in our classrooms, I would say, is probably not fundamentally so different.

“An Interview with Howard Nemerov” 
Neal Bowers and Charles L. P. Silet 
The Massachusetts Review, Spring 1981 
New and Selected Essays, 1985

When I was starting to write, the great influence was T.S. Eliot and after that William Butler Yeats.  I got, of course, the idea that what you were supposed to do was be plenty morbid and predict the end of civilization, but civilization has ended so many times during my brief term on earth that I got a little bored with the theme and in old age I concluded that the model was really Mother Goose, and so you can see this in my new poems.

“Poet and Laureate: A Conversation with Howard Nemerov (1920-1991)”
 
Pembroke Magazine, #32, 2000

Somebody asked me, “Do you believe in God now?” and I said, “No, but I talk to him much more than I used to.”

 “Poet and Laureate: A Conversation with Howard Nemerov (1920-1991)”
       Pembroke Magazine, #32, 2000
Grace Cavalieri:  Do you like these new poems? 
Howard Nemerov: I like all my children, even the squat and ugly ones.


"Poet and Laureate: A Conversation with Howard Nemerov (1920-1991)”
Pembroke Magazine, #32, 2000
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