Excerpt from: Writer's Almanac
Excerpt from an interview:
All of my poems I really care about come from experiences I’ve had, things and people I’ve observed. Fiction has no place in my work. In this postmodern age I’m out of place, believing as I do that a poet is someone who actually witnesses something and truthfully reports back.
Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poems?
Yes, certainly. When I was young I subscribed to the idea that poetry was made up of elevated language, put forth in elegant forms like the sestina and villanelle and sonnet. Now I believe that poems are most effective with readers when they sound like everyday speech. Thus I moved from metrical verse over to free verse.
Can you talk about your poem “Splitting an Order,” which was recently featured on The Writer’s Almanac? It is also the title of your latest collection of poems. Can you speak about the book as a whole? How are the poems arranged? Did you enjoy the process of putting it together?
That poem had its origin when I watched an older couple in a restaurant, splitting a sandwich. I used it as my title for the book because many of those poems are about ways in which people help one another. The way my books come together is one poem at a time. I never have a plan. Day after day I try to write single poems as best I can, and then after the best of them have been in literary magazines, I spread them on the floor and shuffle them around until I feel satisfied with the arrangement. There’s the book