While a painter may speak of color or light, I’m unable to address how a poem happens. One could as well ask why the goldfinch landed on the echinacea just now; or why the Mongols halted at Vienna; or why the blackbird, and not the crow, got to Stevens first.
Let me be the first to announce that I am what Tolkien dubbed* “a muddler in verse.” Or, as a critic once called me, a “taster of poetry.” That’s actually very funny. It is all true: my scholarship is wanting; my vocabulary limited; the promise others perceived in me I have largely disappointed. Still, while I do not claim any grants or fellowships, the kindness of many teachers and peers enriches me to this day.
I chose to stand by my shortcomings and limitations. Maybe others, slow and struggling like myself, will find a glitch of solidarity in our digital isolation. Maybe authentic Genius, when God sees fit to finally return it to us, will have someone against whom to measure itself. This is all, really, that my poems are “about.”
* J.R.R. Tolkien, The Monsters & the Critics (HarperCollins, 2007)