How did I get into poetry? Externally, having librarians for parents helped. Temperamentally it’s more complicated – something to do with always having felt a great love for the world but also that I’m in exile from it.
I like poetry that is both religious and impious. These are also what I think of as old left-wing values. Many modern lefties I find irreligious and pious, which amplifies the feeling of exile I just mentioned. When I read a poem I’m hoping primarily for aesthetic delight and a direct connection to reality and feeling.
Like Tadeusz Różewicz, I also look to poetry for practical help. With life, I suppose. Anchorage. And always in hope that the poem will allow me to see my own life and the world in general with greater clarity and honesty.
I have been reviewing poetry for twelve years, on and off (mostly off). I do it for a combination of reasons. I only think through writing, so reviewing is a good way of working out who I am, and testing my own attitudes for rightness and balance. Obviously, you learn more about the world too, and then of course there’s the sheer pleasure (almost a love-affair proxy, at times) of meeting someone else’s mind and skill, and finding yourself delightfully readjusted by it.
What’s my favourite displacement activity which I do when I should be writing? At the moment, YouTubing old interviews from the Dick Cavett show.