Today, we go for a poet - not just any poet but one of our absolute favorites. See if you can win a complete set of The Paris Review Interviews by figuring it out, and remember the rules please, which you can review here in Monday's post. (Read them carefully, please - people are still getting them wrong.)
INTERVIEWER: Frost talks about the poet, or himself rather, as a performer, as an athlete is a performer. In what sense do you mean that writing is a performance?
POET: A trapeze artist on his high wire is performing and defying death at the same time. He’s doing more than showing off his skill; he’s using his skill to stay alive. Art demands that sense of risk, of danger. But few artists in any period risk their lives. The truth is they’re not on a high enough wire. This makes me think of an incident in my childhood. In the woods behind our house in Worcester was an abandoned quarry—you’ll find mention of it in “The Testing-Tree.” This deep-cut quarry had a sheer granite face. I visited it almost every day, alone in the woods, and in my magic Keds I’d try to climb it, till the height made me dizzy. I was always testing myself. There was nobody to watch me. I was testing myself to see how high I could go. There was very little ledge, almost nothing to hold on to. Occasionally I’d find a plant or a few blades of tough grass in the crevices, but the surface was almost vertical, with only the most precarious toehold. One day I was out there and I climbed—oh, it was a triumph!—almost to the top. And then I couldn’t get down. I couldn’t go up or down. I just clung there that whole afternoon and through the long night. Next morning the police and fire department found me. They put up a ladder and brought me down. I must say my mother didn’t appreciate that I was inventing a metaphor for poetry.
UPDATE: The Random Number Generator appears to have more of a heart than we thought. Sanjay Sipahimalani of Mumbai was one of our readers who identified our mystery poet Stanley Kunitz. The idea that this website and these interviews can serve as a diversion during such awful times reaffirms why we do this. Congratulations, also, to our other winner Elizabeth Houlding. Honorable wrong guesses include Phillip Larkin and Elizabeth Bishop.