I was introduced to poetry in childhood, and became fascinated with the idea of painting a picture with a few words. The first poem I memorized was Robert Frost’s "Birches," and that may have influenced my habit of looking at life through the lens of the natural world. Trees, rocks, lakes and rivers, the sea, otters and birds, wolves and cats, the moon, all inspire me. I am intrigued and inspired by other writers, from Frost to Billy Collins, from John Hewitt to Mary Oliver, and always by my friends Keith Taylor and Marc Sheehan.
I have never considered the form of a poem first, but start with the feeling, and see what form it wants to take. I could, I suppose, set out to write a sonnet, but I think it would not be as good as writing a poem that wanted to be a sonnet. This is not to say that I ignore or disdain meter, rhyme, or any of the forms that poetry may take. Kenneth Koch called it the language of poetry, and I think it has many languages, all of them valid.
The wise and funny Billy Collins said: "Poetry is the only history we have of human emotions. Most history books, what we call history books, are stories of battles and treaties, negotiations and beheadings and coronations. But poetry is the only reminder of this very essential part of being human, which is one’s emotional life and all the dimensions it entails”. I agree, for poetry has been in large measure, my emotional autobiography.
I practice my “craft or sullen art” as Dylan Thomas put it, and will continue to do so, because the only way to write well is to write. Poetry is a gift, a celebration, therapy, prayer, and a connection to the wheels of the world that turn us ever toward the light, if we let go and listen.