How did you first engage with poetry?
I’ve always loved language; when I was young my dad would read me stories and poems, “The Highwayman” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” And I loved writing, but favored fiction writing, with often terrible romantic plotlines and supernatural elements (I feel like this is a right of passage for many young writers). But I did not really come to poetry until my undergraduate college experience. Previously I believed poetry was too difficult to read, and mostly in archaic and “old English.” I did not like Shakespeare, or Frost, or Donne, or any of the canon authors we read in high school. I took an introductory creative writing class when I was a sophomore and we read Wendy Cope’s “The Orange” and Anne Sexton’s “In Celebration of my Uterus.” These poems engaged me. Their writers made poetry accessible to me. I felt included and like I could write about anything and it might turn into a poem. That course was really my entry point, but I didn’t fully embrace poetry until I began reading more contemporary poets, poets whose experiences and words inspired empathy and inquiry. Here’s a list: Shara McCallum, Chris Abani, Kim Addonizio, Rita Dove. But there were so many more than these four. I read (out loud) poetry in a voracious way after that first experience and it has only helped me become a better student of language.