attention. Usually my poemsnare very difficult for me tonwrite. Poets often admit, withnsomething like a parental sensenof surprise, pride, pleasure, thatnonce a poem is finished itnbecomes someone else’s,nbecomes something else. Likenmany other writers of thisncentury, my obsession has beennwith the lost and neglectednforces of the world, what isndark and hidden, and unseen,nalthough I’m not sure if mynown passion is the result ofnpolitical or psychological ornreligious impulses, or anparticular combination of thenthree. There are aspects of thenwriter-reader relationship whichnsometimes drive a poet intonapology and denial. Only a fewnmonths ago a graduate studentnat a Midwestern university sentnme an elaborate commentarynon an early poem of mine,nrequesting my seal of approvalnfor his interpretation. Thisnpoem, “Recollection Long Ago:nSad Music,” is literally anrecollection. I find that manynpoems have a germ in anrecollection, but this is asnliteral, even in detail, asnrecollection permits after somenthree score years have donentheir work. It is true that therenwas a brief period, three or fournyears perhaps, when I thoughtnof myself as a Southern writer.nThen, as young men in ourntwenties, we were quitenbesotted with poetry, writing itnconstantly, continuallyntheorizing about it, andntranslating each other’s work.n”Elegy for N.N.” was writtennin 1962 but for a long time itnremained in manuscript, as Inhesitated whether to publish itnat all. Most of my life-as-a-poetnI have avoided writing poemsnabout paintings, pieces ofnsculpture, sonatas, or othernpeople’s choreography out of anCalvinistic sort of purism,nthinking always that to give innto the impulse to embellishnanother’s art diminishes rathernthan enhances it. “Klimt”nbegan on a day in Areata, afterna long rain, the sun suddenlynblazing every wet thing.nAs these 19 opening sentences go,nso proceed whole essays, collectivelynrealizing a certain uniformity of solemn,nif not pompous, tone and dictionn(and even of subject, as Europe innsome form appears in half of them).nWhat we hear are cultivated Anglo-nAmerican voices quite familiar to us—nindeed, the voices of teachers addressingnstudents. It follows that most ofnthese poets have been or are (or expectnto be) professors of poetry at America’sncolleges. The spectacle reminds me ofnHarold Rosenberg’s image of “the herdnof independent minds.”nSuch uniformity is realized primarilynby Berg’s nearly total exclusion ofnpoets who deviate from current classroomnmanners, not only in their poetrynand prose. In his 30-person regiment,nthe only exceptions to thisnpervasive voice are Etheridge Knightn(who remains the sole nonwhite contributor),nHayden Carruth (who contributesnan arch dialogue), CarolynnForche and Robert Haas (who bothnwrite as though they are addressingnIn the forthcoming issue of Chronicles:nE Pluribus Unumnfriends, rather than students). Indeed,nto my senses, the principal unintendedntheme of Singular Voices is preciselynthe general inability of so many prominentnAmerican poets to realize anunique voice, let alone to think aboutntranscending current fashion, not justnin the writing about poetry but innwriting of poetry itself; and it is preciselynthis artistic failure that, to me,ndramatizes the continuing stasis, if notn”Once we take account of the family, equal opportunitynis an extraordinarily radical principle and achieving itnwould require sacrifices in liberty which most of usnwould regard as grossly illiberal.”n—from “Equal Opportunity and the Limits ofnLiberalism”nby James S. FishkinnALSOnThomas Reeves applies the touchstone of characternto John Kennedy’s administrationnRichard Neuhaus examines the sobering conditionnof religion in American public lifenJay Mechling sees Indian reservations as anlaboratory experiment in modernismnAllan Carlson listens in on Garrison Keillor’snlover’s quarrel with small-town USAnnnAPRIL 1986/35n