should tickle us silly, each bright syllable
a spandrel, a mountain summit, a new planet
swimming into its ken, so perfect
you couldn’t possibly have written it.
Like most people, I wear many masks: husband, father, poet, teacher, skateboarder. I go through phases and this blog has tracked them off and on since 2009. It’s a mixed bag, but hey so is life. If you surf around the archives you’re likely to find an old post I wouldn’t have written today. Others, I might. People change, and opinions and interests change with them.
I’ve been interested in poetry since I took a (disastrous) intro in college. A few years later I discovered Hart Crane’s poems by accident among the dusty alphabets at the Gotham Book Mart. You know how that goes; as Rilke put it, “You must change your life.” Some of my favorite poets are Emily Dickinson, Stanley Kunitz, the poets of the Greek Anthology, whoever wrote the Song of Songs, Constantine Kavafy and, of course, William Shakespeare. (I won’t play favorites among living poets.)
I’ve been writing and publishing poetry – with some long hiatuses – since about 1998. My first poems came out in the now-defunct journal Pivot, and more recently my work has been featured at Innisfree, Rattle and Verse-Virtual; still others are forthcoming at Palette Poetry, Flatbush Review, Free Inquiry and Loch Raven Review. (You can find a list of my published poetry here.)
My default meter is iambic pentameter, or something not unlike it. It’s how thoughts come to me, how poems begin in my head and find their way onto the page. If it was good enough for Christopher Marlowe, it’s good enough for me. Lately, my favorite form has been the unrhymed sonnet. I write a lot of sonnets, but I don’t consider myself a “formalist”. I don’t care much for labels or schools of any sort. I’m interested in getting into the poem, walking through an unmarked door and seeing what’s in the room. Arranging furniture, so to speak. If that gets done with rhyme or without it doesn’t interest me. I think Dylan Thomas once said that he’d do whatever he had to to get what he wanted from a poem. I think that sums it up nicely. If you’re surprising yourself as you write, you’re probably doing it right.
unburial | Kelsay Books | 2020