New Mexico or at that ranch where I got seriously lost in the high desert.Or just the highway. I hitchhiked across the United States a number oftimes for no good reason, just to see it, to shake yourself off. I used to gogrouse hunting with a professor friend, and I was always amazed howthe grouse could get up, and if they got away from you, how they couldwash themselves of their scent in the air and dogs couldn’t find them.You’d want to be that grouse. You’d always want to be the one who couldthrow off the scent, throw off what was hunting you down.
WALPOLE: Your poetry roams through many forms, most of them freeverse. How do you find the right form for each poem?
BALABAN: It is free verse. I think you’re thinking of this in mechanicalterms. Who were your teachers? I don’t think of form in that way at all.The form finds you. You have something you would like to say and youfind an appropriate voice for it and it’s going to be different in everypoem. Sometimes a form, a prescribed set of rhythms and perhaps evenrhyme will be appropriate, and sometimes not. Somewhere on that greatscale of familiarity and strangeness, you find your way.
My interest in end rhyme has pretty well dropped away. There areother ways of enjoying the pleasures of sound play. There are all sorts ofways of bringing in sound play to a poem that are unexpected yet fulfilling. A reason a lot of contemporary poetry is just flat-out boring is because while it’s filled with strong or high sentiment or received wisdomor contemporary cultural wisdom, it remains a statement of platitudesYou have something you would like to say and you findan appropriate voice for it and it’s going to be different in every poem. Sometimes a form, a prescribed setof rhythms and perhaps even rhyme. . . . Somewhereon that great scale of familiarity and strangeness, youfind your way.