The Spring '99 collection is titled Glass Panes. Imagine following a semi-dark hallway through an unfamiliar old building. You come to a window and look through it. The glass panes are flawed and render the outside distorted and in different hues. Some change light into bright rainbows, others are dark. Some magnify, some mirror, some distort, all transform a familiar view into images worthy of interest and study. It takes many panes to make this window.
I began the year responding to a tersely worded and very negative e-mail from a visitor to my site. He felt that no good poetry has been written in this country since Robert Frost, and that I, along with many others should get off the web. His comments made me re-examine a lot of things: What I wanted to say as a poet, how I should say it, if I even had something worthwhile to contribute to the crowded field of poetry. I concluded that I had to keep writing, and that I wouldn't be happy writing classical poetry in the style of Keats, Byron and Frost. Most importantly, I still feel that poetry should offer something to a broad range of readers, not a select few. Poetry is about words, so it belongs to people, and should be accessible to all, both to write and to appreciate.
Unfortunately, the freedom of poetic style and the proliferation of media that the 20th century has given us poets can be, and is, abused. Poetry should not be a forum for ceaseless bitching and complaining about the bad things in life and society unless we, as poets, responsibly exercise our skills of enclosing the lament in proper poetic devices and symbols that make it worthwhile for the audience to read or hear. We exist for our audience, not the other way around. Therefore, a poet should not be a wall of screaming graffiti gyrating before the reader's face. We have newspaper editorials that do that well enough. Maybe the coffeehouses in Long Beach were right to kick us poets out for that reason. Maybe poetry, as an art form, should be more like a window made up of many panes of glass. Each pane has its own view and purpose, and each is individually colored by the poet's own subtle distortions. It takes many poets and many forms of poetry to make a window to the world that's worth looking through. I realized that I've been just as guilty recently for having written brick wall poetry, and that's not what I want to do. So the best I can do right now is to be a pane of glass instead.
Glass Panes is a collection of poems that spans many subject matters, but they're liked together by being observations of the things that make us human. Sometimes it's the act of observing that makes us human. The selections include styles and subjects I have never attempted before, but it's good never to stand still in anything in life. As in my previous collection, I have my own personal favorites. I hope you'll find something worthwhile here, too.