I respond to mood. I hear some phrase, or pick up a rhythm.
I don’t like poetry that doesn’t give me a sense of ritual, but I don’t like poetry that doesn’t sound like people talking to each other. I try to do both at once.
I like to think that the best poetry is or involves a contest between ordinary conversation and ritual.
A thing may fail as a poem because it tries to do what a poem cannot do: it tries to become a treatise on cosmic truth… We can best be exact about the cosmic things – God and truth, beauty, eternity and love – by not talking directly about them.
I put myself in a spiritual and physical place where I’ve learned from experience the synapses are likely to fire and the juices are likely to flow, and simply begin to write.
I always have pen and paper with me.
Jazz is very important. It’s not something I can put my finger on. When I’m writing at my favorite time, I like to have the gentle side of Coltrane or Brubeck on the CD player. It creates sort of a spiritual space in which I write best.
Ritual is important to us as human beings. It ties us to our traditions and our histories.
For something to be useful to the spirit is not very valuable to get your covered wagon across the desert. We have adopted that attitude so thoroughly that any American father whose son tells him he wants to write poetry will be embarrassed.