Poetry is my church. I go to it for redemption, for answers and for comfort. Sister Leo Patrick, my imperious high school principal, would not be thrilled with this, nor would she be particularly surprised. I was always a thorn in her side.
In a poem of mine called “Subject Matters,” I look at what prompts poetry in me. Here’s part of it…
Damn the torpedoes,
the world-famous poet pronounced from the podium.
Write poems you want to read
And I do.
Not of the sunset
and whether it’s pink
or slightly more mauve than pink,
but of the young man who watches it distractedly,
the light fading from his boarding house window,
Not quite sure of how to go on.
My poetry is not really simple, I don’t think, but it is about ordinary things. I’m not an abstract thinker. I’m interested in ordinary life. I don’t ask a poem to carry a lot of baggage. I just try being an observer and letting the experience move from me through my trusty Ultra fine Sharpie Pen onto the pages of my wide-ruled notebook — without distortion.
I write poems to help me make sense of the world, to connect, just connect. I find the smallest moment can teach me things.
I feel passionately that a poem, any poem, should earn its keep. And what does that entail? What do I want from a poem? What do I think we should all want – and get?
First, I want to be moved by a poem. To be reading it and feel there is nowhere else I want to be, nothing else I’d rather be doing.
I want to be reminded of something I’ve forgotten. That I’ve heightened my awareness somehow.
I want to stir inside a little. To have that deliriously happy moment when after I’ve read the poem I put down the book or magazine and am lost in a realization, a heightened awareness. Do you know that moment? It is delicious. You feel smarter, more connected, more human after reading the piece. it’s that moment of magical understanding . Oh, yes I see, you think. I am the better for having read this …Wiser somehow.
I want to be told something by a poem.. Something, almost anything. It may be precisely the way sunlight seeps through the pores of a wooden floor, or the way the poet see the belly of the moon at night before she falls asleep. It might be about love, even if it is bad love. Or especially because it is bad love–such a common heartbreaking thing.