In the Ranks of Poets

Judge: And what is your profession, in general? Brodsky: I am a poet and a literary translator. Judge: Who recognizes you as a poet? Who enrolled you in the ranks of poets? Brodsky: No one. Who enrolled me in the ranks of humankind? Judge: Did you study this? Brodsky: This? Judge: How to become a poet. You did not even try to finish high school where they prepare, where they teach? Brodsky: I didn’t think you could get this from school. Judge: How then? Brodsky: I think that it ... comes from God

An exchange between a judge and Joseph Brodsky as recorded in a court transcript in 1964. Brodsky was on trial in the Soviet Union for writing what was considered apolitical poetry.