PW: Some people would say that there isn’t enough poetry of joy nowadays—that contemporary poetry needs to lighten up.
EH: I think to have poetry, you need to have all kinds of different poets. We need poets who write playful, funny poems, poets who write light verse; I don’t think we should neglect that. But should that be the defining feature of your poetry? Is that how you want your poetry to be remembered? I guess that’s up to people in the culture. But it’s also true that we live in a very superficial culture. We live in a culture that’s driven by entertainment, by celebrities, so there’s plenty in the culture to distract us and lighten us up. People who turn to poetry...I don’t think they’re looking for something gloomy, but I do think they’re looking for something deeper than the superficial experiences you get in the culture every day. If we’re addicted to poetry, we’re addicted to the deeper experiences that poetry gives us. We have a great challenge in our culture because of the tremendous success of the mass media. But there will always be people who will care about the deeper aspects of what it means to be human.