One of the symptoms of depression is an addiction to rumination. The vicious cycle of negative thinking that strips us of energy and desire. It is precisely our obsession with working out what makes us unhappy that makes us unhappy. – Chris Corner
You don’t walk away from something that was central to your very being for 35 years without … thinking about it.
Three or four years ago I wrapped my fourth book of poetry and hung up my quill, as it were. I wrote about it at the time, but no matter how self-aware or introspective or pensive or reflective you are, you simply will not fully understand this kind of momentous decision until you’ve had a chance to get away from it and develop some distance and perspective.
Lately I believe I have come to a deeper realization about my relationship with poetry than I ever had, ever could have had, before. When all is said and done, I believe poetry was killing me. Or rather, poetry was the weapon with which I was killing myself.
Here’s how it goes. Continue reading Photography may have saved my life
Former US Poet Laureate Mark Strand is dead at 80.
In a 1998 interview with the Paris Review, poet Strand said something I find fascinating:
Well, I think what happens at certain points in my poems is that language takes over, and I follow it. It just sounds right. And I trust the implication of what I’m saying, even though I’m not absolutely sure what it is that I’m saying. I’m just willing to let it be. Because if I were absolutely sure of whatever it was that I said in my poems, if I were sure, and could verify it and check it out and feel, yes, I’ve said what I intended, I don’t think the poem would be smarter than I am. I think the poem would be, finally, a reducible item. It’s this “beyondness,” that depth that you reach in a poem, that keeps you returning to it. And you wonder, The poem seemed so natural at the beginning, how did you get where you ended up? What happened? I mean, I like that, I like it in other people’s poems when it happens. I like to be mystified. Because it’s really that place which is unreachable, or mysterious, at which the poem becomes ours, finally, becomes the possession of the reader. I mean, in the act of figuring it out, of pursuing meaning, the reader is absorbing the poem, even though there’s an absence in the poem. But he just has to live with that. And eventually, it becomes essential that it exists in the poem, so that something beyond his understanding, or beyond his experience, or something that doesn’t quite match up with his experience, becomes more and more his. He comes into possession of a mystery, you know—which is something that we don’t allow ourselves in our lives.
Continue reading Poet Laureate Mark Strand dead: reflecting on something he said
One of our greatest poets has died at 87.
I had the privilege of seeing Kinnell read while I was at Iowa State in the late ’80s. He did some new things – things he’d been working on during the flight out, in fact – but this was the high point of the evening.
Thank you, Galway. Sleep well.
22 is my lucky number. 22 years ago I wrote this poem, one of my best ever (or at least the one that a lot of people seemed to like). It’s a Solstice poem, and today is Solstice.
So here you go. Happy Solstice.
You have to have a plan, but happiness depends on how well you roll with the punches.
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley – Robert Burns
No plan, however well conceived, survives contact with the enemy. – Military Adage
Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. – Mike Tyson
Continue reading Art is like life: you never know which direction it will hit you from next
Our own poetic voices are the product of the voices of our heroes. Guess who mine are.
Here in NaPoWriMo 2014, we’re encouraging everyone to write poetry every freakin’ day. As I said last week, write like nobody’s reading. In my case, I’m not doing new writing so much as I am reflecting on writing and thinking about the times when I was writing, not only every day for a month, but pretty much every day period. And I’m thinking about the writing process – why we write, and how. Continue reading NaPoWriMo 2014: the importance of influence
National Poetry Writing Month begins today. Will you write 30 poems in 30 days?
Well, no. I won’t, not me personally. I retired from writing poetry a couple years ago. But before I did I wrote four books and am currently looking to publish them, so I definitely salute the annual celebration of the art.
Here at S&R we have a deep and abiding respect for verse, and we encourage you to break out the quill and parchment (if you don’t have a quill and parchment pen and paper, or even a word processing package such as Microsoft Word will do) and get your poetry on. Continue reading NaPoWriMo 2014: write like nobody’s reading
I was never great at love poems, but these two are probably my best.
Gravity: Summer Solstice, 1992
- for Mary
Go tell it to the sea,
how he should let go
his shameless high tides –
climbing each day, each night
kissing at her cloudless
indifference. Continue reading Happy Valentine’s Day from S&R: Two love poems