Poems are a way of identifying what’s happening, often in conversation with oneself, or with others. What do you hold dear, what needs to be said this moment? Our observations, for me, seemed the first accurate ones ever, as we shed the trance of World War II and the 1950s. Interesting to be young and growing, in consonance with the culture’s evolution, wherever that growth has taken us.
Writing poetry is a journey into form and into unknowable material. Guides are Olson’s “The line is a score of your personal breath” and Creeley’s “Form is never more than an expression of content,” plus the visual improvisations of John Wieners and Ginsberg’s broad sprawl. Exactly how does one best express what’s crucial?
Beginning a poem begins a new and ageless journey. If the journey is not pristine, we’re not tuned in. My background contains strong tugs toward Wieners’ exact statement of feeling, van Buskirk’s personal, apocalyptic vision, then the social power of Bob Dylan, feminism, radical politics, meditation, sonnets, and spoken word, alongside study of Eliot, the Greeks, Shakespeare, the anthologies. Chalcedony’s voice, a woman’s, somehow grounded me and inspired a rediscovery of passion. I started using the form of early poems and speaking in a more authentic voice, whether female or male.
The honesty, passion, and justice of the Beats, responsibility in answering a general need for authenticity, along with an unswerving focus on the topic and how to present it without distractions. These values seem undying to me. The image itself, the emotion itself, and the evolution embedded in them. How to follow it.