I am increasingly attracted to restricting possibility in the poem by inflicting a form upon yourself. Once you impose some formal pattern on yourself, then the poem is pushing back. I think good poems are often the result of that kind of wrestling with the form.
The life of Edward Estlin Cummings began with a childhood in Cambridge, Mass., that he described as happy, but he struggled in both his artistic and romantic exploits against the piousness of his father, an esteemed Harvard professor.
I just reached the point where plot-driven novels don’t hold my interest because I don’t care about the fate of characters anymore – whether Emily marries Tom or not, that kind of thing.
Emily Dickinson never developed. She remained loyal to her persona and to that same little metrical song that stood her in such good stead. She is a striking example of complexity within a simple package. Her rhymes are like bows on the package.
My poems tend to have rhetorical structures; what I mean by that is they tend to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. There tends to be an opening, as if you were reading the opening chapter of a novel. They sound like I’m initiating something, or I’m making a move.
A lasting marriage, they say, is one where the two reach for different sections of the Sunday paper. Me, I go right for the obituaries, just like those very elderly characters in Muriel Spark’s spooky novel, ‘Memento Mori.’
The first line is the DNA of the poem; the rest of the poem is constructed out of that first line. A lot of it has to do with tone because tone is the key signature for the poem. The basis of trust for a reader used to be meter and end-rhyme.
When I discovered the lyric poem, that advanced not by narrative steps but by blocks and layers of imagery, I said, ‘Gee, I probably could do that. So let me try that.’
I’ll listen to anything authentic whether it’s bluegrass or gospel or blues.
I think my poems are slightly underrated by the word ‘accessible.’