What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Lunch at a beachside cafť in Maine on a mild fall day, in the company of my husband. Fried oysters, a glass of chardonnay, a rich dessert with zero calories.
What is your greatest fear?
On a personal basis, Alzheimerís, but a greater fear is global calamity.
What historical figure do you most identify with?
Which living person do you most admire?
I lack the gene for admiration.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Iíve learned not to deplore myself in any particular.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
I cut others a lot of slack. Weíre all imperfect beings, lost, lost!
What is your favorite journey?
The progress of the soul.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
On what occasion do you lie?
Iím a terrible liar and I suck at spin.
When and where were you happiest?
That is still to be.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
There are two: my poetry (though it feels as if it achieves me) and my marriage, because we've kept it free of struggle.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be??
A solitary egret.
What is your most treasured possession?
I donít treasure possessions.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Where would you like to live?
Maine in summer and fall. Hawaii in the winter. New York in the spring.
What is your most marked characteristic?
What is the quality you most like in a man?
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Confidence with a touch of humility.
What do you most value in your friends?
Good listening skills. Rare in this town!
Who are your favorite contemporary writers?
Fiction: Barbara Kingsolver, Jane Smiley, Ian McEwan
Nonfiction: Annie Dillard, Oliver Sacks, Karen Armstrong, Kathleen Norris
Poetry: Seamus Heaney, Richard Wilbur, Hayden Carruth, Linda Pastan, Mona VanDuyn, Rhina Espaillat, Sandy McKinney
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Heroic fiction doesnít interest me.
Who are your heroes in real life?
I donít know from heroes.
What are your favorite names?
Jose Cuervo and Margarita.
What is it that you most dislike?
What is your motto?
Teach thy tongue to say I do not know and thou shalt progress.