These poems started--as many of my poems do--as thoughts jotted down
while reading, or in the case of "The Sale of the Universe," while
watching a movie. I was watching Coco Before Chanel
with my step-sister, and there was an odd exterior scene where the
characters sit outside on a sort of veranda, in fancy hats, drinking
tea. My step-sister and I were both struck that while this was actually
a very still
scene--physically, that is--the sound of wind was mapped
onto it, as if there were weather. The trees, however, were unmoving,
and the characters' hats and hair weren't the least bit ruffled. The
sound of wind seems to have been some sort of sound-editing mistake,
but it got me thinking about sensory experience, the expectation (for
example) of our eyes when our ears hear wind. I suppose the poem
explores how experiences with various artistic mediums--film,
literature, etc.--set the imagination to work. So, while the scene in
the movie showed me something about the relationship between sound and
sight (and the normative expectations of the senses), interacting with
art actually frees the mind to "read" in any number of directions, and
the poem thus ends on a semantically open note.
How would you characterize the relationship that your poems end up having to the experiences that gave rise to them?
Poems, for me, are like condensations that
combine a variety of experience into a controlled space, making a tiny
(visual/formal) world that hopefully exceeds its formal boundaries in
its suggestions or semantic possibilities. I hope poems can suggest
different meanings to different people; I hope a "literal" experience
transforms into something else in the space of a poem (and in
combination with other thought, felt, imagined, or sensed experience).
I think poems can take us both into and out of ourselves by
accommodating these various meanings, thus showing us a broader world
of possibility outside of our own.
Emerson says "To think is to act." Thinking is how my poems originate
and evolve. I guess a poem’s relationship to the experiences that
give rise to it is a layered one, then: literal referents in the world
give rise to a poem, and thinking transforms those referents. That
thinking is the poem.