Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?
It has, yes, markedly. In a way, that change still reflects those two early poetic compulsions, love and something much larger and less personal. Until I was in my early thirties I wrote personal lyric poems based in my own experience, primarily of love and desire. I’d read The Cantos and Paterson and The Maximus Poems, and loved that poetry; but it did not represent an approach to form and content that I felt compelled to follow or use or imitate. But in the early 1980s I came to a point when I felt that the lyric poem was exhausted, or I was exhausted by it anyway, and I deliberately set out to locate a different and less personal kind of poem, even radically so. I was especially interested in conserving the musical aspect of verse, while finding a way to reduce my own controlling consciousness as a necessary presence in my work. So I started to write a long poem—that seemed then almost inevitable—but I chose to write it in prose poetry. No fussy decisions about line endings or indents. Just sentences. And in choosing that approach to poetic form, I was sure that I would discover a broader content as well. Which I think I did. The title of that long poem, The Invisible World Is in Decline, has, in the almost forty years I have been writing it, sometimes felt constrictive. Its theological implication never seemed very important to me, at least at the start. In any case, the lyric poem came to seem quaint and surannée, to use Baudelaire’s word, though I did eventually return to it and wrote both kinds of poem simultaneously. My long poem is now done. The final book, Book IX, will be published in the spring of 2022.