Your daughter appears explicitly in
"Greeting," and the fairy tale forms part of the backbone of "No Light.
Tiny Warmth." Is this gesture to address the child or the childish an
important part of your poetics?
I think, at some level, all poems
address the childish, simply because oftentimes poems are a return to a
language that is rhythmic or repetitive or playful--a kind of
experimentation with language that, in many ways, comes much more
naturally to children than adults. So in that sense I always hope
to be childish.
In terms of content, "No Light. Tiny Warmth" was actually written
just after I watched the "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. I was
thinking about our cultural and historical obsession with the hero's
journey, often manifested as a specific search for a specific item (a
ring, a princess, pot brownies, whatever). I set myself the task
of writing a poem about three characters on a perpetual journey with no
purpose. No goal, no end, no bittersweet reunion with
"Greeting" was written after the birth of my daughter.
Sleep-deprived and lacking motivation, the form of the anaphora gave me
the solace of a launching place for each line. I didn't know the
poem had anything to do with my daughter until I got to the last
stanza. I consider myself to be an imaginative and creative
person, but the first year or two of a child's life do not really
involve getting to use these gifts for the sake of the child.
There is instead a shit ton of repetition. When the words finally
come they are mostly bricks: nouns and verbs that spark and then sit
heavily with nowhere to go. Ironically, much of my "childishness"
had to be put on hold (mostly) for a few months while I became the
inhabitor of a very practical world. But it's wonderful too, to
see language evolve. My daughter created her first sentence
yesterday and it was ridiculously exciting--memory!
I am very far away from the initial question. Is the childish
important? Absolutely. But as I return to the world of
poems, I'm also loving the parental control of form and rhythm and
meter. Maybe every poem is actually a struggle between the
parent-self and the child-self. Wouldn't Freud have loved that?