There have been two popular subjects for poetry in the last few decades: the Vietnam War and AIDS, about both of which almost all of us have felt deeply.
I had assumed that I would age with all my friends growing old around me, dying off very gradually one by one. And here was a plague that cut them off so early.
It was difficult being a teacher and out of the closet in the '50s. By the time I retired, the English department was proud of having a gay poet of a certain minor fame. It was a very satisfactory change!
I deliberately wrote a poem in my last book where I was suggesting that there are other passions as great as or more important than the passion of sex.
I admired what my students were writing, but I think their improvement doesn't directly result from me but from being in a class, being with each other.
When I first started to write, I was aware of being queer, but I didn't write about it. Queer poems would probably not have been accepted by the editors I sent them to.
I deliberately decided to write a kind of guide to leather bars for straight people, for people not into leather, so that people could see what it was all about.
I notice that students, particularly for gay students, it's too easy to write about my last trick or something. It's not very interesting to the reader.
I try not to observe myself in the process of composing a poem because I don't want to come up with a formula, which I would then be unscrupulous in using.
We learned in the university to consider Wordsworth and Keats as Romantics. They were only a generation apart, but Wordsworth didn't even read Keats's book when he gave him a copy.
I was at a benefit for some imprisoned students in the '60s at San Francisco State, and there were lots of poets reading for the benefit: one was Elizabeth Bishop.
When I first started teaching at Berkeley in 1958, I could not announce that I was gay to anybody, though probably quite a few of my fellow teachers knew.
When I was an undergraduate I had very badly annotated editions of Shakespeare's sonnets, all of which left out the important fact that will has a sexual sense in Shakespeare's sonnets.
While I don't satisfy my curiosity about the way I work, I'm terribly curious about the way other poets work. But I would think that's true about many of us.