Maps: A Sonnet in The Word in the Wilderness

I was delighted when Malcolm Guite chose my sonnet “Maps” to include in his anthology The Word in the Wilderness! (My poem appears below.) The anthology has a poem a day for Lent and Easter, with a mix of classic and modern poems, and commentary on each poem; it is very good indeed, and excellent reading not only […]

The Dance of the Villanelle

The word ‘villanelle’ sounds like it ought to be the name of a dance – and perhaps that’s not so far off from what it really is, as a poetic form. The essence of a villanelle is its mix of repetition and variety: two lines weaving and interweaving through the poem, like figures in a […]

Emily Dickinson and the Art of Doubt

Sometimes designating herself the “Queen of Calvary,” nineteenth-century American poet Emily Dickinson is known as a poet of emotional extremes.  In one moment she is “inebriate of air” and “debauchee of the dew,” the next, she is wallowing in deep despair, acknowledging that she “likes a look of Agony” because she knows “it’s true.” While […]

Looking at a Sonnet from the Inside

Constraint begets creativity, and the particular demands of the sonnet form are conducive to the kind of poetry that I am drawn to write, with a focus on vivid images or states of mind. A finished poem, if successful, feels complete; it’s hard to imagine it being other than it is – and so I’ve […]

Reversals: Poetry and the Heavens

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)   What do we see when we look up […]

Where Do Poems Come From?

Good question. Kelly Belmonte has been writing on this subject on her excellent blog All Nine Muses, and invited me to reflect on my creative process, in response to her pieces (parts one, two, three, and four). For me, writing poetry is seeing and discovery; open reception and active building; a fascination with the words […]