How does a poem begin?
I try to never begin a poem with an idea, or a theme. Never a concept. I feel like when I have done that the poem doesn’t speak back to me. It’s just me dumping my preconceived ideas on the page and there’s no opening – not for me, not for the reader – to hear what the world has to say. If I want to make a statement, I’ll write an essay.
When my oldest son was four, I was planted in front of the computer on a typical afternoon, and he brought me a dandelion in a cup to put on my desk. As if that weren’t dangerously precious enough – there was a friggin’ inchworm on it. I still haven’t written that poem, because the memory overwhelms me in a way that won’t allow the inchworm to just be an inchworm.
Yesterday I noticed several of my flowerpots had cracked when the water in them had frozen. I began there, and let the flowerpots lead the way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m mostly a lyric poet, so I may very often land in my own naval, gazing - but I don’t begin there.