One thing I try to have in my life is an awareness of and openness to mystery, which, to me, is deeper than any politics, race, or geographical location. In the poems I read, a sense of mystery, a deepening of it, is what I look for – because that is what I respond to. I have been influenced – especially in the poems of Once – by Zen epigrams and Japanese haiku. I think my respect for short forms comes from this. I was delighted to learn that in three or four lines a poet can express mystery, evoke beauty and pleasure, paint a picture – and not dissect or analyze in any way. The insects, the fish, the birds, and the apple blossoms in haiku are still whole. They have not been turned into something else. They are allowed their own majesty, instead of being used to emphasize the majesty of people; usually the majesty of the poets writing.
–from In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose, from Part III, “From an Interview,” written in 1973.
Note: Once (1968) is Alice Walker’s first published book of poetry. In the book and chapter the above passage was taken from, she talks about the context of time, place, and her emotional state at the time of its writing.