An Afternoon with Diane Wakoski: Part 2 of 2

The RCAH Center for Poetry at MSU

By Kelsey Block

*Please note that the following quotation also appeared in “An Afternoon with Diane Wakoski: Part 1

“Poetry is for those moments when something moves you because of its beauty, pure beauty, for anything that engages you to look at it and experience its transformative power,” the 76-year-old poet said. “Beauty transforms you.”

But not all find Wakoski’s poetry to be a thing of beauty. Peter Schjeldahl wrote in a 1970s review that Wakoski’s “pervasive unpleasantness makes her popularity surprising. One can only conclude that a number of people are angry enough at life to enjoy the sentimental and desolating resentment with which she writes about it.” Schjeldahl’s somewhat mixed review also notes that Wakoski’s poems are “professionally supple and clear.”

Wakoski said she is not surprised that some people consider her work difficult.

“I do write about difficult things, but I am looking for a…

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