I grew up in a blue collar household in Bucks County, PA, and was the first in my family to finish college. The opportunity and the gift to study english literature and creative writing is something I’ve never taken for granted. Along the way, I had the opportunity to study with many wonderful mentors including Robin Becker and C.S. Giscombe at Penn State University and Sharon Olds, Charles Simic, and Yusef Komunyakaa at New York University. Each of my mentors has shaped both directly and indirectly the poet I am today.
Which is one reason why I take the mentor/apprentice relationship so seriously. In my teaching, I try to apply gentle pressure to my student’s work, in the hopes that they will push beyond what they are writing, and to, as Richard Hugo says in “Triggering Town,” write the poem they did not know they could write. A poem is a discovery of the truth. It is as much a journey for the poet as it is for the reader, and I look forward to sharing that journey with my students at Goddard.
In terms of my own work, my first book of poems, “The Lamp with Wings: love sonnets” (Harper Perennial), was winner of the National Poetry Series. It is a collection of hybrid love sonnets, which puts pressure on both the idea of the “love” lyric and the sonnet. While I am interested in form, I believe that form in poetry can take on new and hybrid shapes, not just the classic English verse forms. My interest in psychoanalysis has lead me to take on the form of psychoanalytic case studies, including dialogues (“The Case of Jane” 500places press, Berlin), a notebook of a patient with Multiple-Personality Disorder (“Notes on Melancholia” Monk Books), and dream sequences. My latest manuscript is entitled, “Case Studies,” and it includes many of these psychoanalytic forms. I try and write everyday because, as Hugo says, “lucky accidents seldom happen to writers who don’t work.”
Some links to poetry on the web: