I do not know when I started writing poetry; I suppose it was when I realized that there was great sorrow and great joy that could exist together in life. I fell in love with other poets when I was young the way that everyone else was falling in love with this girl or this boy…I knew that there would be backseat liaisons, unrequited crushes, and long nights of heartbroken weeping, the same as with people; still, I remained with those poets, unreasonably sometimes, and that is how I knew that I loved poetry. But doing poetry—I do not know. I am not sure that I do love doing poetry. As Auden put it best, “poetry makes nothing happen”; it is unrewarding and tiring, it is demanding, it hurts.
2. Describe some aspects of your writing process (how you get ideas, how long you usually spend on a project, your editing process, how you know when a piece is finished, etc.)
Poems usually attack me like stray animals. And I pity them. I feed them. Eventually they get in the house, all mangy and sometimes rabid. Then, just as it seems that I’m adopting them, they adopt me and chew the fleas off my ankles, or lick the crust out of my eyes…none of us really finish here. Even cat ladies’ cats die eventually, but poems just keep going “’gainst death and all-oblivious enmity,” and that sort of thing. Imagine the mess. They get in the walls and keep me awake at night.
3. How do you choose what subjects to include in your work? Is there anything you most like to write about and why does it intrigue you?
I do notice some words or permutations of words that occur regularly. Blood, fire, and sword are three that readily come to mind. The sword is to do with honor, balance, and the air that directs it; it is more important to me since I read Musashi’s Book of Five Rings. H.D. reminds us, too, that the sword and words are very nearly the same.
Blood and fire are more difficult. Fire has Freudian implications and mythological ones—Freudian in that it is civilizing, sublimating, a sign of self-control; via Jung, alchemical. Mythological in that fire is transformative, mutable, received as grace through rebellion, a way of infinitely dancing from destruction to creation and from creation to destruction. Blood is animally unitive, historically necessary, a spectacle, colorful (how many flowers are the shades they are because a hero or goddess bled on them?), and now it is even dangerous. It is, as the Levites and Renfield knew well, the life.
4. How did you find out about the St. Sebastian Review? Why did you choose to submit work to us?
I found the St. Sebastian Review on Poets & Writers. I chose to submit my work here for two reasons: first, I read the archived material and enjoyed much of what I read. I do not enjoy most of what I read in many literary journals. Second, I am homosexual and Christian (“often disenfranchised and unheard” is probably pretty accurate for the group, not least because we anger both sides. But the coincidence of opposites, Cusa reminds us, is the Absolute—too heretical? Only so long as that anger remains.) The venue was worth a shot, and it worked well.