Amazing poet and amazing man. He's funny and smart and generous, though I'm not sure he'd want anyone to know that last part. (I can spill the beans here because he doesn't go on the internet. Really. Not at all. Never.) He brings energy to our residency, and every conversation with him gives me a certain exhilerating thrill as I realize that here I am speaking with--and I truly mean this--a genuis.
I loved his seminar today in which he--beautifully, lyrically--told us to read in a passionate and open-minded way ("the sacred, the slutty, everything"; to read instructions that come with a cheap toy and Dante's Inferno, Vanity Fair the novel and the magazine). He reminded us to honor greatness and feel humbled before it, giving us the image of Dickens writing Bleak House with a nib pen, dipping it into ink every two lines or so. In stunning and dextrous language, he warned us that computers and the way we read today--on the screen--and the fall of the printed book will have ramifications for the human brain, which is slowly and irrevocably being rewired. A line that I loved as he talked about books: "the essence of an elegy is also praise."
He wouldn't tell me where this beautiful essay was published, and called me "Google-fingers" when I threatened to look it up.
At lunch, he called me "shrewd," and I loved that he chose that word, and he loved that I loved that word.
You can read more about him at the Poetry Foundation site.
And here's a poem that appeared in The New Yorker, which I hear in his distinct voice. If you ever get the chance to hear him read, GO.