*At Bread Loaf 2014, we were asked to prepare an artistic statement. We were asked to read one poem and talk about how it represents our work.

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Exercise: ars poetica

My poem, “Radiography,” is a crossroads of the ideas/themes in my work right now: driving, Voyager/space, illness/medicine. It has moments of sonic repetition. It tries to play with sentence constructions. It’s trying to be read as understated but has content that is arresting & dangerous. These, I think, are consistent elements in my work.

I’m attracted to structure (how the info is handled) and structure’s relationship to form, pattern, and variation. I am drawn to sonics, syllabics, syntax & meter. Creative constraints are of great interest to me. I think because I am suspicious of my own decision-making when crafting poems I am drawn to constraints because they give me some “third party” tension against which I can compose, or maybe provide a distraction to kind of “shut me up” enough to maybe write something worthwhile, or maybe just only give some meager validation. I think rhyme is hard, I think sparseness is hard. I think I overwrite in the same way that as a kid I would over-explain if I felt I had done something wrong–I think that’s feeding my suspicion, that when I’m writing I’m doing something wrong, something overly sentimental or too melodramatic.

My attraction is: using language which is available to everyone to make a crafted thing. As a medium, language is not like paint, it’s not granite; but it’s also not like voice or body (singers & dancers)–language is this “already-made construction” that we then again manipulate… That sounds like a kind of appropriation, which I guess it might be and I find so totally compelling and provocative and even transgressive. Poetry re-introduces words to me in a way that’s as if I hadn’t known them before, but I have, just not in the way that I had thought. It is like, as a kid, when I saw my fifth grade teacher at the supermarket, out of the context of my grade school classroom; suddenly she was so much more, and strange, than how I had come to know her.

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