I learned snails don’t have ears. They live in silence. They go slowly. Slowly, slowly in silence.
Attempts to put my poems to music have had disastrous results in all cases. And the poem, if it’s written with the ear, already has been set to its own verbal music as it was composed.
I write with a Uni-Ball Onyx Micropoint on nine-by-seven bound notebooks made by a Canadian company called Blueline. After I do a few drafts, I type up the poem on a Macintosh G3 and then send it out the door.
The whole world of publishing is moving to electronic, but when you put a poem on a screen and you increase the type size, the shape of a poem changes.
I’m not a claustrophobe, but you don’t need to be to feel claustrophobic inside an MRI. It’s like being buried alive.
I find a lot of poetry very disappointing, but I do have poets that I go back to. One book of poetry that I’d like to mention is ‘The Exchange’ by Sophie Cabot Black. Her poems are difficult without being too difficult.
I think it’s good not to make demands on the reader too early. But as the poem goes on, I want the journey of the poem to lead into some interesting places.
There’s something very authentic about humor, when you think about it. Anybody can pretend to be serious. But you can’t pretend to be funny.
People think of poetry as a school subject… Poetry is very frustrating to students because they don’t have a taste for ambiguity, for one thing. That gives them a poetry hangover.
When I was a young man, I understood that poetry was two things – it was difficult to understand, but you could understand that the poet was miserable. So for a while there, I wrote poems that were hard to understand, even by me, but gave off whiffs of misery.