Poem introduction

In the form of a dialogue, 'Making Poetry'

Making Poetry

"You have to inhabit poetry
if you want to make it."

And what's "to inhabit?"

To be in the habit of, to wear
words, sitting in the plainest light,
in the silk of morning, in the shoe of night;
a feeling bare and frondish in surprising air;
familiar... rare.

And what's "to make?"

To be and to become words' passing
weather; to serve a girl on terrible terms,
embark on voyages over voices,
evade the ego-hill, the misery-well,
the siren hiss of publish, success, publish,
success, success, success.

And why inhabit, make, inherit poetry?

Oh, it's the shared comedy of the worst
blessed; the sound leading the hand;
a wordlife running from mind to mind
through the washed rooms of the simple senses;
one of those haunted, undefendable, unpoetic
crosses we have to find.

from Poems 1955 - 2005 (Bloodaxe, 2005), copyright © Anne Stevenson 2005, used by permission of the author


Anne Stevenson

Anne Stevenson Reading from her Poems

1Poem for a Daughter

2The Spirit is too Blunt an Instrument

3The Suburb

4The Mother

5The Victory

6By the Boathouse, Oxford



9A Surprise on the First Day of School

10Innocence and Experience

11A Marriage

12Arioso Dolente



15Enough of Green

16In the Tunnel of Summers

17North Sea off Carnoustie

18Still Life in Utah

19If I Could Paint Essences

20The Wind, the Sun and the Moon


22Why Take Against Mythology (1)

23Why Take Against Mythology (2)

24The Writer in the Corner

25The Fiction-Makers

26Small Philosophical Poem

27Willow Song

28Granny Scarecrow

29When the camel is dust it goes through the needle's eye

30Impromptu in C Minor

31On Going Deaf

32Talking Sense to my Senses

33Who's Joking with the Photographer?


35Making Poetry