I have loved writing poetry but it's taken time, like a difficult courtship that leads to a good marriage, for us to get to know each other. I wrote poetry for seven years to learn how to write a sentence because I really wanted to write novels and I figured that I couldn't write a novel until I could write a sentence. I used poetry as a lover but I never made her my old lady.
One day when I was twenty-five years old, I looked down and realized I could write a sentence. Let's try one of those classic good-bye lines, "I don't think we should see so much of each other any more because I think we're getting a little too serious," which really meant that I wrote my first novel Trout Fishing in America and followed it with those other novels.
I pretty much stopped seeing poetry for the next six years until I was thirty-one or the autumn of 1966. Then I started going out with poetry again, but this time I knew how to write a sentence, so everything was different and poetry became my old lady. God, what a beautiful feeling that was!
I tried to write poetry that would get at some of the hard things in my life that needed talking about but those are things that you can only tell your old lady.
- RB, 1971.