Painters can say how they work in pastels or oils, but to this day I’m unable to address how a poem happens. One may as well ask why the goldfinch just now landed on the echinacea, or why the Mongols truly halted at Vienna. I’m not being coy.
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 pretty funny, as well as clever. 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 has enriched me.
But I have chosen to stand by my shortcomings and limitations. Maybe others, slow or struggling like myself, will find a moment of solidarity in this digital isolation. Maybe Genius, when God sees fit to finally return it to us, will have someone against whom to measure itself.
* J.R.R. Tolkien, The Monsters & the Critics (HarperCollins, 2007)