I’ve been writing, or perhaps it’s more proper to say trying to write, poetry in earnest since 1996.  It’s a peculiarly frustrating activity.  In all the years I’ve been working on poetry I have very little to show for it all.  I’ve got maybe 25 poems that I still like enough to say that they are worth keeping.  All the others were just a part of the process.  I suppose everything is a part of the process.  And just what is this process anyway?  In my humble opinion it is fundamentally all about inquiry and exploration.  And the poems that result are the tangible records of the psychic paths that these inquiries and explorations have taken.  Phillip Booth once said “Being a poet is not a career; it is a lifelong inquiry into the ways in which words see.”  (That words actually do have their own ways of seeing was a great revelation when I realized this!)  So it makes no sense for someone to say that you have failed as a poet or succeeded as a poet.  It is your own process of inquiry and no one else’s.  Of course, the tangible records of your own poetic inquiries might turn out to be inspiring to others, but that is not as important as preserving the integrity of your own inquiry, wherever it leads you.

Of Mere Being
by Wallace Stevens

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance.

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.