Excerpt from


Pancho Villa or The Fate


In Spain one drinks from both cups.

Split a diamond      /       quarter it        /        cut it in eighths
the glamour of increasing surfaces.
                     And in getting below them
                     one partakes of aspects
                                   like wounds


Interview in New York Quarterly

NYQ: What poets have influenced your work?

PAUL BLACKBURN: W. H. Auden was an early influence. My mother sent me a copy of his Collected Poems when I was in the Army. When I was nineteen, I could write a pretty good Auden poem, and I feel that I picked up a formal sense of musical structure from him. In college I began to read Ezra Pound. His Personae, not to mention the Cantos, was an incredible revelation to me as to what you could do in terms of making music with different line lengths, and how, rhythm could be so rich and varied. I think I learned a lot of my ear from reading Pound. At the same time I was studying Pound, I was picking up influences from my contemporariesóRobert Creeley, Charles Olson and Cid Corman. I was learning to strip my style of as much as I could and get down to very simple statements while still keeping it reasonably musical. I think a lot of the William Carlos Williams influence came to me, not through Williams so much, as through Williams' influence on Creeley. In a review of my first book, the critic blamed both Creeley and me on Williams. I thought, "Oh, wow! I've got to read Williams!" So I got ahold of Paterson, and what was then his Collected Poems. I wanted to find out where my influences were coming from. I wanted to find out who my father was.


Robert Creeley on Blackburn

I'd like to speak personally of this extraordinary poet, and take that license insofar as these poems are personal, often bitterly so. I wonder if any of us have escaped the painful, self-pitying and meager defenses of person so many of them invoke. What we had hoped might be, even in inept manner worked to accomplish, has come to nothing - and whose fault is that, we ask. Certainly not mine? Having known both of these dear people, and myself, I have to feel that there will never be a human answer, never one human enough.