The pleasure in the patternmaking
There’s an awful lot of value attached to performance, interpersonal performance—you’re cool when you’re witty and laid-back and the ideas run off your tongue. I was never good at that. I’ve never felt quite at home in front of people, so my cynicism is really born out of aggression toward the well-adjusted person; the idea that one can be self-possessed, happy, well-adjusted, and be that way always—I just never bought that. So when I see someone who performs well, I’m always suspicious that when they’re off the stage, there’s some kind of breakdown. I grew very disillusioned with that kind of performance because of the psychic toll I think it takes on a person, or certainly takes on me. I am also romantic and optimistic, which I don’t see as a contradiction. I started writing because of the silence of the audience. Here’s a place where I can imagine being on stage, so to speak, before a group of people who may or may not be sympathetic, but I have the opportunity to speak, and not only get my ideas out to my satisfaction, but without interruption. Without being shouted down.
I do believe that somewhere in our language, in our performance of speech, that all the background noise of ambition and criticism and judgment can sort of melt away and what’s left is just human interaction. I’m at a point now where I believe in the reader, I have faith in my relationship with the reader. Not to say that I blindly think the reader is always sympathetic; I’m painfully aware that there are a great many readers who are not, but I don’t feel I have to appease them anymore. Again, that’s what I admire about [Gabrielle Calvocoressi’s] work: it’s not about getting it right or perfection; the pleasure is in the doing, in the patternmaking, in the ritual and rehearsal. And I’ve learned to enjoy that repetitive process of crafting the poem, of crafting the communication, of crafting the relationship with the reader.