What is your intention in using stanzas that deviate from traditional form?
What is traditional form? Are we talking quatrains, couplets, and tercets? I use those too, but when I deviate from “the traditional form” I’m doing a couple of things: first, I’m giving silence and breath to both the poem and the reader. Since silence is half the poem, if not more, the distance between certain lines and the themes within them is paramount. Second, I detest looking at a long poem with no breaks, so I make stanzas. Since a stanza is literally a room, I try to break where a pause will give the greatest weight, as you would at a line break. Breaking at a slight turn in the narrative is something I do. Sometimes I see a poem is 24 lines and begin to play with stanzas of even length, to see if anything is gained or lost. It’s intuitive too, not just mathematical. Experimentation while editing leads to some profound questions as to the internal reshaping of the poem—does this really need to be here, or can I lose it and gain a more efficient poem in the process?
What is the importance of nature imagery in your poetry? Is nature meant to be observed as only foreground and surface, or as background, subtle but with a deeper underlying meaning?
I suppose subtle and deeper, but it’s in the foreground. I see myself, and everyone and everything, through nature. We are defined by it in every possible sense. Nature carries double meaning all the time—it’s a character with similar traits to people and objects. Nature often speaks for us, whether we like it or not. So when I use nature, as I do quite often, I’m using it on the most immediate level as a shadow to the meaning on the page; but at the same time that shadow is the one really controlling the strings. Warren Zevon has a lyric in some song of his: “Sometimes I feel like my shadow’s casting me.” Yup. We are defined by our past, and all the subtle shadows we take for granted.
Think I just answered that. Of course, they’re meant to be appreciated on the level of craft, but if that’s the only reason than there’s no point in writing the poem. Everything is purposeful in a poem—it’s endemic to its nature. The subtle metaphors and symbols are the shadows that control us, directly or indirectly. Anytime a device in a poem is used as self-focusing, it ought to be cut out through drafting to reveal the product of the focusing, thereby revealing the true poem and gaining lyric intensity and efficiency.
Why do you choose to surround very real and concrete concepts in ambiguity? What effect do you wish to achieve by this "atomization" of your subjects?
Do you mean "divide and fragment"? I’ll answer this on the grounds that I can change my answer at any time in the future. IF I use ambiguity as something that surrounds concrete images and concepts, it’s a mirror of how we live our lives and perceive the world. A few bits of our lives are concrete, but 95% of it is ambiguous sense we have to perceive, digest, internalize, and give personal meaning to the concrete. If anything, I’d like to highlight the fragmentation of our perception as subtly as I can, and hope that in the course of marrying concrete and abstract something uber-concrete comes out—a truth that means more than either the abstract or concrete alone. I’m all for hybridization, fusing forms and functions together to get at human perception in ways no single art form or movement ever has on its own.