Scott Momaday: Poetry, it seems to me, and I’m pretty sure I’m right about this, is the crown of literature. To write a great poem is to do as much as you can do in literature. Everything has to be very precise. The poem has to be informed with motive and emotion. You’re bringing everything that literature is based upon to bear, when you write a poem. I think of myself as a poet. I’d rather be a poet than a novelist, or some other sort of writer. I think I’m more recognized as a novelist, simply because I won a prize. But I write poetry consistently, though slowly. And it seems to me the thing that I want to do best.

I think it’s the highest of the literary arts. A poem, if it succeeds — if it is what it ought to be — brings together the best of your intelligence, the best of your articulation, the best of your emotion. And that’s the highest goal of literature, I suppose. I would rather be a poet than a novelist, because I think it’s on a slightly higher plane. You know, poets are the people who really are the most insightful among us. They stand in the best position to enlighten us, and encourage, and inspire us. What better thing could you be than a poet? That’s how I think of it.