Poetry is the most sublime of the arts and also, in my humble opinion, the most difficult. I’ve been interested in poetry for a long time but only started writing it in earnest in 1996, after having taken a poetry workshop in Ithaca, New York. At the time I embarked on this strange and difficult path I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. To say that it’s been a difficult challenge would be an understatement. I had naively thought in the beginning that eventually I would get to the point where I had enough experience to know what I was doing, i.e. know how to write a poem. But no!, after 20 years of struggling to try to produce poems the main thing I’ve learned is humility, that I don’t really know what I am doing. And furthermore I doubt that any poet really knows what she or he is doing. There have been a few times in my life when I felt discouraged and thought I should quit, but I always came back to it. I’ve finally learned to have some faith in the process, a faith that is more like a quietly fierce, gut-level stubbornness. A faith that if I take a certain psychological stance toward the world, that if I embody a certain kind of stubborn open-heartedness in the face of life’s apparent objective futility, that some illumination or inspiration will come to me.

I realize now that the most important thing is that each time you sit down to try to write a new poem it’s like starting out at the beginning, you must discover poetry anew. And even discover your life anew. It’s about reexamining everything: all of your experience, the meanings you’ve acquired over the years to explain yourself to yourself, your perceptions of other people and even of the entire world. Your whole life and experience is unknown territory then to be explored, starting over from the first step. After many years of being a poet I find that the process of trying to write poems has become indistinguishable from the process of exploring my own nature, and human nature in general. I know now that I will never be able to give up this (possibly foolish) quest to try to write poems. It accomplishes nothing, no one cares about it, it usually seems like an exercise in futility, and yet it has extended and deepened my life, made me much more of a person than I would have been without it.

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