It hit me the other day, reading the poetry of Vicente Aleixandre at a bus stop near a high school: poems are like teenagers. They’re dressed up funny but they all kind of look the same. They say obvious things in incomprehensible slang. They come on strong one minute and the next minute refuse to tell us anything. They traffic in vast sensitivity, even hysteria, all the while obsessed with keeping cool. They won’t settle down and talk to us like grown-ups. In short, they’re exasperating. It’s no wonder we all wrote poems in our adolescence. You did so, I saw you.
Still, they give me much pleasure—I’m just talking about poems now—and I don’t really want my poetry to grow up. When I come across poetry that has straightened itself out to conduct itself like an adult without any nonsense, it makes for very stale reading, as does the stuff that has disconnected from passion and impulse in favor of intellectual gamesmanship. I might admire it, but it doesn’t cling to me. I can’t love the poetry that sits around in a well-furnished room with its well-weathered friends talking about complicated political situations and other hobgoblins of grown-up life. I love the ones that are loving somebody, longing for somebody, dancing all night, driving home listening to the radio, and staring out their bedroom windows at the cruel, cruel world.