As I rifle/riffle through poems I’ve written, partially written, not written, but loaded into memory banks with lightly trembling girders—as I search personal archives for something embodying ‘concrete visual imagery’, I am reminded of what a narrative poet I am. I love sonnets, an unusual pantoum, or any villanelle anyone is bold enough to write after Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art. I love Lucie Brock-Broido and Louise Gluck and Louise Mathias and Jorie Graham. And Sarah Hannah (may she never be forgotten), Kay Ryan, Terence Hayes, Wislawa Szymborska and Diane Seuss (the poem Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open is so disturbing and effective). I also admire Mary Oliver, admire how people I know who are teachers, landscape artists, mommies, museum curators, jaw dropping rollerskaters and/or just plain nice, love Mary Oliver. And in some instances I adore Billy, and even though I love Bob Hicok, Amy Gerstler, Ellen Bryant Voigt (i.e,. The Force You Must Read), Sharon Olds, Dan Gerber and Adrienne Rich. I’m all over the map. Yet:
I am not a monster.
I am: interested. Really interested.
Once, after a poetry reading I participated in, a giant approached me, dressed all in black, which made him seem disturbingly planetary. He shook my hand and tore into my poems, accusing me of being, I’m pretty sure, too narrative. He was adamant, and slightly wild, like a weary bear in a pit. I listened to him with a slight gape going on. A poet friend was suddenly at my side. He challenged the giant and disagreed with startling passion. I’d never seen him worked up before, my mild, poet friend. I stood between them, watching them argue, thinking: Right now? I’m happy. Later that night, I stayed up with the moon, pouring over the poems I’d read that evening. It was a productive session with my work.
Later today, I participate in the Second Sunday Poetry Series. Armed in concrete visual imagery, or not, I’m looking forward to reading my poems and listening to the poetry of Los Angeles locals. Community? In sprawling L.A.? Bring on the giants, narrative speculation, narrative poetry, the lyric and, hopefully, a strong cup of coffee.
Yours in metaphor and simile and absolutely no didactic poetry or poetry about pets (I promise—although there might be a poem about a horse, who shall remain nameless…),