At what point in your life did you want to be a poet, and why?
I don’t know if I want to be one now. It seems there are a lot of prerequisites you have to fulfill, and I’m entirely uncomfortable with all of them (patience, perseverance, acceptance of failure). I wrote my first poem at 15, and never looked back. Since I was a shy, tepid, awkward, uncomfortable kid, the only voice I had was the one I could shape and deliver on my own terms and at a time and place of my own choosing. I want to be a poet, someday, because there are brief moments—and not many of them—when I form an image or line and my head’s blown off by the intensity. I’m talking when everything comes together: image, sound, meaning, metaphor, double meaning, narrative arc, subtlety, efficiently. Everything that makes language worth writing—because I don’t think it’s worth speaking most of the time.
Well, I suppose the
simplest example would be gray clouds, dripping trees, and muddy waters
would equal a depressing Benjamin Vogt. I don’t really use imagery
to convey my emotions—I’ll use diction and tone for that.
I use imagery to convey someone else’s emotions, a character, animal,
or object. I’d like to think an object is not imagery. A stone has
a personality, doesn’t it, even if we have to personify it? But
we’re not necessarily reflecting how we feel upon the stone, but
trying to work other imagery through it to get at the true feeling.
What process do you use to come up with ideas for your work?
Sometimes I take bits of newspaper articles or other poems I’m inspired by and use them as beginnings. Sometimes I just think of an image, and let the emotion of my tone and diction play with the image until a theme or mode of operation come through. Sometimes I use photographs to begin a narrative or lyrical extrapolation of what I think is happening. Really though, I write when I feel moved to, and I edit when I’m angry with myself for not feeling moved to write. So, something’s always going on. Sometimes I’m in the shower in the morning and a line comes into my head, and I’m suddenly in a frenzy to get to my computer. Mornings are great times to write, if you’ve slept enough. I can’t write until after I shower—or, apparently, during.