I value teaching. It’s one of the places I get inspiration, engagement.
I became a poet in Pittsburgh. When I lived in the South, I was a basketball player and primarily a jock. An English teacher essentially suggested that I send the poems that I’d been writing – really just for him – to a few programs, so that when I wound up in Pittsburgh, it’s where I figured out that I could actually be a poet.
We look at the Mona Lisa and say we’re going to do our version of the Mona Lisa. We mirror it. But exaptation would say that painting the Mona Lisa would lead to a whole new place… Bugs Bunny.
Art is not the kind of thing where you get what you put into it all the time. So I learned to not expect anything other than the sort of joy of having a poem in front of me.
While the debate over banned books usually seems to happen just outside the gates of government, it takes on a new danger and urgency when legislators get involved. Their actions cause voices to be silenced both inside and outside the books. That’s un-American.
When I applied for grad school, I did not specify genre. I said I wanted an MFA in Creative Writing. I was so cute and stupid! The admissions committee at Pitt decided to put me in poetry.
I always turn to Frank O’Hara and David Berman’s ‘Actual Air,’ which came out in 1999. He’s a poet I haven’t tired of.
Every contemporary poet is a door to another poet.
My working habit is to separate my aims as a painting from my aims as a poet. They come from very different places and ultimately lead me to very different places… I’ll leave what I mean by ‘places’ ambiguous.
We can’t really know ourselves because we have not created ourselves. But we can know computers, we can know cars, because anything that we made, we can understand.