What did you find most difficult about writing poetry?
The writing of poetry doesn’t align well with capitalist sensibilities. I’m not just talking about how poetry is less of a money maker than other forms, though that’s definitely a thing. But there’s a certain level of internalized capitalism that I’ve been struggling with for a long time. I’m terrified of my own repressed laziness, and for many years I had the sense that if I let go of the rope, if I stopped constantly pushing myself forward and forward and forward, writing a poem every couple of days, I’d just — poof! — disappear. I stressed about being in control of the process. I wanted to be able to pick some topic and then write a very logical book that made sense, based on that topic. I wanted to get up every day and drink my coffee and write a brilliant poem, edit it in the afternoon and have it sent out for publication the next day. A nice steady stream of dopamine, right? And validation of my existence.
Unfortunately the poems that I pressured myself into writing — maybe before they were fully cooked — were never fantastic, and it turns out poetry isn’t something I can force or even want to force anymore. Once I drop down into as much peace as I can muster, this all feels obvious, and not stressful at all. I write poems when poems come, and when they don’t come, I don’t write them. Eventually I’ll have enough for another collection. My mentor Elisabeth de Mariaffi always says, “Writing isn’t typing.” I think the hardest part about writing poetry is accepting that there will be moments of nothing. There will be moments of staring out the window. There will be moments of no words and no brilliance and no insight. No clapping. You can’t have the rush and miracle of creation without also accepting — loving, maybe — the corresponding void.