It's often said that the work of writing is done alone, yet in many ways that work is never complete until it is heard by another, whether it is a single reader, a listening audience, or an institution such as the NEA. I was overjoyed to hear that I was the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship. American poets too often live with a sense of real or imagined isolation, and to have my work recognized in this way reassures me that imagination, beauty, and the jolting reflections of poetry are a crucial part of our national life. I have just finished my second book manuscript, and hope to spend the next year working on new poems. This award will allow me to give more poetry readings than I would have otherwise, and will also give me the needed time to begin anew with a pen and a blank page. I feel honored and immensely grateful.
That was the year I rented an apartment
inside the poems of Wang-Wei.
His lines about cassia blossoms falling
were a window I looked out from
as city buses downshifted on Hennepin Avenue.
In the afternoons I went to my job
inside the poem "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg.
All summer I walked the corridors of his long sentences.
In autumn the weather turned cold,
and the newspaper began talking about the Super bowl
and the Presidential election. Wang-Wei's poems
died on the branch, and fell to the ground.
We raked them into piles.
And a few weeks later the world was covered
in the cold, beautiful poems of Yeats.