A Moment with Jack Gilbert
How do you know when you've finished [a poem]?
If I am writing well it comes to an end with an almost audible click. When I started out I wouldn't write a poem until I knew the first line and the last line and what it was about and what would make it a success. I was a tyrant and I was good at it. But the most important day in my career as a writer was when Linda [Gregg] said, Did you ever think of listening to your poems? And my poetry changed. I didn't give up making precreated poetry, but you have to write a poem the way you ride a horse––you have to know what to do with it. You have to be in charge of a horse or it will eat all day––you'll never get back to the barn. But if you tell the horse how to be a horse, if you force it, the horse will probably break a leg. The horse and rider have to be together.
-The Paris Review, No. 175, The Art of Poetry: Interview with Jack Gilbert, p. 59