I think humans have always felt watched back by whatever is out there flickering in the distance. What excites me is what the imagination creates, not simply in explanation of what is there but also to explain or justify the feeling of awe and attachment that the heavens inspire.
When my father died, those years when he was working on the Hubble came back to me, and it seemed fitting to imagine him as having somehow merged with the large mystery that the universe represents.
I don’t know how anyone can see the Hubble ‘Deep Field’ image and not feel like something else is going about its business out there.
I work with a lot of young people who have poems that are changing their lives, that they’re eager to talk about, but every now and then when I meet someone, maybe someone of my parents’ generation, and I tell them that I write poetry, they’ll begin to recite something that they memorized when they were in school that has never left them.
We all need poetry. The moments in our lives that are characterized by language that has to do with necessity or the market, or just, you know, things that take us away from the big questions that we have, those are the things that I think urge us to think about what a poem can offer.
I had written here and there about my mother in my poems. There are poems for her in my first and second books.
One of my main wishes in wanting to write about my mother was to explore the impact of her death on my life, explore our relationship, think about the different versions of myself that I was with and without her. I also had the really strong wish to bring her to life for my children, who were born after she was gone.
I grew up in northern California in a town called Fairfield, which is kind of exactly between San Francisco and Sacramento, a small suburb. And I’m the youngest of five children.
So much of my poetry begins with something that I can describe in visual terms, so thinking about distance, thinking about how life begins and what might be watching us.
I feel most alive, most electric with faith, breath, and courage, when I think of God as a current that runs through all that is. Not by will or by choice. Not as a benediction but because there are laws even God must obey.