Imagination doesn't just mean making things up. It means thinking things through, solving [problems] or hoping to do so, and being just distant enough to be able to laugh at things that are normally painful. [Some people] would call this escapism, but they would be be entirely wrong. I would call fantasy the most serious, and the most useful branch of writing there is.
--Diana Wynne Jones

Friday, January 21, 2011

Elevating Gossip: "It Takes a Hero to Make a Poem"

I was trying to dig up a Robert Frost quote today that had something to do with my book, and I came across a great old BBC interview of Frost explaining what he meant when he said the poem is a "momentary stay against confusion." 

So many gems in there.

Here's one of my favorites:

"One of the three great things in the world is gossip, you know. First there's religion; and then there's science; and there's - and then there's friendly gossip. Those are the three - the three great things. Philosophy is just a thing that trims religion, you know - that prunes it and all that. And you've got science. And you've got this: the biggest of all, is gossip - our interest in each other ."

Where does that leave us writers? Ha. Eavesdropping little gossip-mongers.  Which is nothing to  be ashamed of, if Frost is right: 

"It is hero-worship, you see, and one of the things that makes you go, is making a hero out of somebody that nobody else had ever noticed was a hero....It's in making a book, you know. And it takes a hero to make a poem."

Which makes sitting around the house in your pajamas all day, hunched over the computer, banging its keys, sound practically noble.  I mean, well, it ought to be noble. Who needs a business suit, anyway? Or a paycheck?

Right. Thanks, Rob. For justifying the insanity.

*To read the full interview, go here.


  1. Wow. I never heard this before. I love the comment, "making a hero out of somebody that nobody else had ever noticed was a hero." That's just beautiful!

  2. Hi, Gaylene! Don't you love that? I was thinking of sticking it in the front of my poetry novel.

  3. I'd love to believe that writing is noble. I know sometimes it feels like a momentous thing and it would be a beautiful idea to think that someone recognized it like that.

  4. Laura: Yes, if only we could all write like Robert Frost, maybe we could really convince ourselves. And then there's Natalie Babbitt, who says writers think too much of themselves already. Oh, well. :)


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