What do you feel poetry can accomplish that other forms can’t?
The thing about fiction — traditionally, anyway — is it’s full immersion. You want so bad to know what happens next that you forget your problems. You forget your life. But it’s hard these days for me to get immersed in anything. Since the pandemic began I haven’t been able bear the thought of reading fiction, or even watching anything deeper than Rick And Morty. I can’t handle that kind of full-throttle empathy in this moment — I don’t want to step into anybody else’s hero’s journey. I’m wading waist-deep in my own. Maybe I’m afraid of losing control. Maybe I’m afraid if I stop looking directly at the world right now I won’t be able to recognize it when I finally lift my nose up again.
So I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not necessarily my desire right now to escape. And maybe I’m not the only one feeling this way. There are too many things to keep track of.
I think it’s for this reason that poetry is offering me immense comfort in this moment. It doesn’t ask anything of me but to read the words and hear them. It doesn’t swallow me down like fiction does. It is written to resonance. It’s something I can hear and feel even if it’s not something I fully understand. And it’s written in the language of the unconscious mind, the language of the soul. You can spend five minutes in the morning reading a poem and then it rattles around in your head all day, the way a dream does. You might not understand it, you might not even remember it. The truest truths don’t always make a domino kind of sense.
As a writer, the thing I love most about poetry is that there are no rules — writing a poem is a process of deciding what a poem is. There’s immense freedom there. Of course, that can be nerve-wracking.