Many of the poems in this issue seem to coalesce around themes of
darkness and light. In what ratio of shade or illumination do your
poems thrive? Does a dark poem need light, and vice versa?
I don’t think consciously about a ratio of light and dark in my poems,
though your question immediately made me go back over them to see if I
could find a pattern. I don’t see one, though I do see an ongoing
battle between the two, wending through the work. And I do think poems
need both light and dark. The first poem I fell in love with was
Hardy’s “Darkling Thrush.” Darkness predominates throughout that
poem, but it’s the light that wins out, in the final few lines.
We hear an echo of John Berryman’s first Dream Song in the conclusion
to your poem. Are your references to a “woolen lover” and to Bessie
Smith’s “Empty Bed Blues” meant to rewrite or challenge Berryman’s
“Everything is Real and Everything Isn’t” is a (highly) modified
cento, and for me it’s not quite a challenge to Berryman, whose work I
return to often, but a way of finding echoes of Berryman (and other
poets) and myself in other works, many of which aren’t poems. As
if, in all the data we are daily flooded with, there are messages, if
only I can discern them.