How did you first engage with poetry?
I remember the first poet who I ever saw performing their work. I was in early elementary school, and we all came to the cafeteria to hear a poet. Even then I guess I had pre-conceived notions of what a poet was. I expected someone professorial. Instead it was a man who looked like he came down off a mountain. He was in fact from the Ozarks. I looked for his book which I still have somewhere in my library, and I was unable to locate it to tell you his name. I was just smitten with him. I loved watching him own his identity which was so unique and tied to his place, his unique experience. He was a performer and an individual. It taught me that you didn’t have to be from a big city or slick or pretentious to be a poet. I am from a small town, Gulf Breeze, Florida, and he was from a smaller place than me, but he was a traveling, performing poet. You just have to do the easiest and hardest thing in the world: be yourself. A person who can do that, I think, can own any room or microphone or page. You have to tell your story like it’s the most important story in the world. If you do it right, it is.