Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I am thankful to be a poet. It makes me happy. It occupies my mind and strokes my hair. (Not in a sick self-congratulatory way but lovingly.) My gray cells celebrate the ring-a-ding pinball course of thought. 

Of course, there are the days I loathe my work or torture myself with accusations of being lazy. (And sometimes I am.) There are the tedious days when I look up journals to send my work to, and try to think which 4 to 6 poems go together in a provocative way. And there are the days of rejections or the weeks. The dread silence when everything is out.The days when one can only regurgitate the banal or the cliched.

White paper (or screen)--it should be an occasion for joy. A space to have my say with metaphors, alliteration, line breaks.

Writing poems is work for which I rarely get paid which means that it's the side-scramble, the column that sometimes gets jettisoned. But it has shaped me more than anything else except being a parent. It has taught me how to see the world in a way that makes for a deeper life. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Intellectual Texture or Finding the Tabletop

I don't think this is something I have ever called for in quite this way, but recently I was making comments/notes on a student's poem and I wrote, "Cheese, cheese, cheese--you need a cracker."

And it was true. I was swirling in a vortex of color and sensation--kind of like the The Manchurian Candidate, Frank Sinatra's eyes about to roll up into his head! And as much as I beg for image in any of its guises or on any of its layers, I needed some kind of tabletop to get my foot on, too, so I could stand up and see what was going on in the poem.

I needed some grounding or stage which implies direction or a stance, and I needed some other kind of information as counterpoint to act as a balance to the heavy dose of image that was pouring on me like syrup. And I needed measure.

This should be easier to mete out than sound texture, but it doesn't seem to be, maybe because sound has more recognizable dualities and information texture is more like a color wheel or a centrifuge gone wild. The tongue limiting but the mind endless and without time.